Going Off to College

With no test preparation, college applications or school schedules to worry about, the summer after senior year is a wonderful moment of liberation! Thinking about the adventure ahead fills students – and their parents – with excitement and joy, but also more than a twinge of anxiety! What follows, therefore, are a few pointers to help smooth your way to college:

  • You need not take your whole bedroom with you to campus! Frankly, most college rooms lack space for multiple appliances and game systems, so check with your future roommate about who will bring what. Assess what you need after you arrive, and remember that when you go home for the holidays, you can always return with that special pillow your mom made you and your online game console.
  • Begin to plan your pathway through your education by knowing when you have to declare a major, what your distribution and concentration requirements are, and when these classes are offered. But don’t let your planning close you off to new possibilities – after all, college is about expanding your intellectual horizons and your academic skills. Explore the course catalog to get a taste of what those possibilities may be.
  • Attend the first class of every course you consider taking, even during any “shopping” period. Professors hand out material, set out their expectations, and may even start teaching, and you do not want to miss it.
  • Attend class even when you don’t feel like it because you stayed out late the night before or the weather is cold and your bed comfortable. Professors will cover material, explain concepts and sketch the bigger picture in ways textbooks won’t.
  • Resist procrastination and, instead, design a study and work schedule. Stick to it! College success comes mostly through a combination of hard work and organization.
  • You may have the time to purchase required textbooks more cheaply online, but make sure you have them when needed for assignments. Buy the edition the reading list specifies.
  • Commit yourself to getting to know at least one of your professors each semester. Your intellectual experience at college comes in part from talking about ideas with others who share the same interests, and that includes both fellow students and teachers. Professors are also invaluable later if you need a letter of recommendation or information about research and internship opportunities. Other residential and academic advisers are equally important resources.
  • Living successfully with a new roommate requires mastering the art of diplomacy and compromise, especially for students who have never had to share their bedroom before. Make use of your residential advisers, and work actively to become part of your dorm community. Avoid the temptation to stick only with the people you knew before you arrived, or those with whom you share a hometown or a language or a religion.
  • Get to know the campus and all the resources it has to offer – libraries, music performances, visiting speakers, sports facilities, and Career, Disability and Study Abroad counselors. Resist the freshman temptation to stick only to the safe bubble of campus – after all, when you chose your college, you also chose your environment. If you are on new terrain, use common sense and at first explore in the company of friends, but don’t let unfamiliarity deprive you of the pleasures your new home has to offer. Get to know the local public transport system – being able to get around a city cheaply and easily is very freeing!
  • Take responsibility for managing your money and your day-to-day life. Learn to do your laundry before you leave home. Open a bank account, manage a monthly budget, and learn to deal with the Accounts and the Financial Aid Offices. And find yourself a job! At most colleges you need not be on financial aid to get a campus job, and these are wonderful opportunities for earning extra money, adding to resumes, and extending your knowledge of your college.
  • Be kind to your parents as both their child and an adult. If you have a problem, they may not know the context well enough to judge whether this is a genuine crisis that requires intervention, or whether you just had a bad day. They will always be ready to support you, so help them make that judgment.

One of the many great joys of university life is that you get to occupy, for an extended period, a lovely space between being an empowered adult and a dependent child. This is a great privilege, but not an excuse for idling in a state of perpetual childhood! Use your privilege and your freedom well. Have fun but be sensible; enjoy the freedom but grow up; and revel in your freedom but phone home!

Early Decision Results for College Goals’ Students

With the exception of just of few colleges, most students have heard back from the colleges to which they applied early action or early decision.  Here are the results from our College Goals’ students!!  Congratulations on a job well done!  And, students, good luck on your regular decision applications!

Early Decision Results 2014

 

Number of CG Students

College or University

Early Acceptance

Early Deferral

Early Denied

Amherst College

1

Babson College

1

Bowdoin College

1

Brown University

1

3

CalTech

1

Carleton College

1

Case Western Reserve

1

Claremont-McKenna College

1

1

Cornell University

2

1

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)

1

Fordham University

1

Georgetown University

2

Harvard University

1

2

Imperial College London

1

Lehigh University

1

Loyola Marymount University

1

MIT

1

Northeastern University

3

Northwestern University

1

Princeton University

1

5

Purdue University

1

Sacred Heart

1

St. Michael’s College

1

Skidmore College

1

Soka University

1

Stanford University

1

1

Tulane Honors Program

2

University of Denver

2

University of Illinois

3

1

University of Pennsylvania

1

1

University of Vermont

1

Vassar College

1

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

1

Yale University

1

1

College Goals is Traveling – Fall 2013

College Goals’ Gail Lewis and Jilly Warner will be traveling and available to meet with current and prospective students and families in several locations around the world!  Standardized test preparation tutor Karen Berlin Ishii will be joining Jilly in London and Paris.

London, UK                                                      September 25-28
Jilly and Karen will give the following presentation at The London School of Economics:

Wednesday, September 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Preparing for an American University Education
(£20/family, advanced reservations required  www.Collegegoals2013.eventbrite.com)

Jilly Warner will be available to meet privately with interested families September 25-28 and Gail Lewis will be available September 25-30.  Karen Berlin Ishii will also be available to meet with students and families during that time.

Paris, France                                                   September 30-October 2
Jilly and Karen will give the following presentations at The American Church in Paris:

Monday, September 30, 7-9 p.m.  Preparing for an American University Education
($20/€15 family, advanced reservations required  www.Collegegoals2013.eventbrite.com)

Wednesday, October 2, 6-9:15 p.m.  Intensive Small Group Workshops for Students
6 – 7:30 p.m. SAT Test Preparation Workshop

7:45 – 9:15 p.m. College Application Essay Workshop

Limited space available.  $40/€30 per workshop, advanced registration.  $65/€50 for both workshops.  Register at www.Collegegoals2013paris.eventbrite.com or contact Carolyn Comfort at collegegoalsparis@noos.fr or tel 01.45.00.11.75 (eves).

Jilly will be available to meet privately with interested families September 30-October 2.  Karen Berlin Ishii will also be available to meet with students and families during that time.

Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa                  October 2-15
Gail Lewis will be available to meet with interested families.

Karlsruhe, Germany                                           October 4
Jilly will give the following presentation at the American Library:

Friday, October 4, 7-9 p.m.  Preparing for an American University Education
       There is a €2 entry fee.  No pre-registration required.

Jilly will also be available to meet with interested families.

Geneva, Switzerland                                          October 6
Jilly will give the following presentation at a private home.  Please email Jilly for directions at jilly_warner@collegegoals.com.

Sunday, October 6, 4-6 p.m.  Preparing for an American University Education

Jilly will also be available to meet with interested families.

London, UK                                                      October 17-21
Gail Lewis will be available to meet with interested families.

 

To schedule a private meeting with Jilly in London, Paris, Karlsruhe, or Geneva, email  jilly_warner@collegegoals.com.  To schedule a meeting with Gail Lewis in London or South Africa, email gail_lewis@collegegoals.com.  To schedule a meeting with Karen Berlin Ishii in London or Paris, please email karen@karenberlinishii.com.

 

An Introduction to College Goals

COLLEGE GOALS is a highly qualified university admission consulting practice specializing in counseling families interested in higher education opportunities in the United States. We accept both U.S. and international students from around the globe.

Students benefit from the collective knowledge of a veteran Ivy League Associate Dean; two professionals each of whom has worked for more than a decade as associate directors in admission at major American universities, coordinating the review of international applicants; and an educator trained in test preparation with extensive experience in supporting homeschooled and alternatively-educated students, and who advises on college-aware preparation for younger students.

We share our knowledge about every aspect of college admission. Our focus is on our students’ academic success, and on their personal satisfaction.  Our students not only get in, they thrive.  Our Internet and phone-based counseling offers students and parents maximum flexibility and rapid, responsive, personal guidance through every step of their college search and application process.

COLLEGE GOALS is ready to help exceptional young people, from any part of the world, who are eager to take up the challenge of personal and global responsibility that the privilege of an excellent higher education invokes.

Whether your interest is in neuroscience or playwriting, economic modeling or environmentalism, the choices and decisions you will make, shaped by the learning that you are seeking, will influence society and the globe itself.  That is such an awesome privilege and opportunity!

We are here to help you develop and articulate your dreams, and forge a path to build the skills to match your goals.

www.CollegeGoals.com                           info@collegegoals.com                          401-454-4585

College Goals is Traveling

College Goals’ Joyce Reed will be traveling and available to meet with current and prospective students and families in several locations around the world!  College Goals’ Andrea van Niekerk and standardized test preparation tutor Karen Berlin Ishii will be joining Joyce in Paris and London.

Los Angeles, CA                          March 19-23, 2013

Joyce will be available to meet with interested families.

Asheville, NC                          March 24-29, 2013

Joyce will be available to meet with interested families.

Zurich, Switzerland              April 4-5, 2013

Joyce will be available to meet with interested families.

Paris, France                          April 10-16, 2013

Joyce, Andrea, and Karen will give the following presentations at The American Church in Paris.  Click on the following link for the Paris information flyer or contact Carolyn Comfort at collegegoalsparis@noos.fr.

Friday, April 12, 7-9 p.m.    Overview of U.S. University Experience and Application Process  (free)

Saturday, April 13, 1:30-4 p.m.   U.S. University Workshop for Parents and Students (25€/family, advanced reservations required)

Joyce and Andrea also will be available April 10-16 to meet privately with students and families interested in higher education opportunities in the United States and working with College Goals through the college admission process.

Karen Berlin Ishii will be available to meet with students and families interested in seeking her assistance with standardized test preparation.

London, England                          April 17-24

Joyce, Andrea, and Karen will give a presentation at Trafalgar Hall, University of Notre Dame, in London.  Click on the following link for the London information flyer.

Saturday, April 20, 2-4 p.m.    Choosing an American University Education (£20/family, advanced reservations required)

Joyce will be available to meet privately with interested families April 17-24 and Andrea will be available April 17-23.  Karen Berlin Ishii will be available to meet with students and families April 17-26.

Washington, DC                          April 27-May 7

Joyce will be available to meet with interested families.

 

To schedule a private meeting with Joyce at any of these locations or with Andrea in Paris or London, please email info@collegegoal.com.  To schedule a meeting with Karen in Paris or London, please email karen@karenberlinishii.com.

On writing your college essay

As we enter July, rising seniors should be giving serious thought to the college application. Many of you will not find this a happy thought, since starting the essay seems so intimidating!

There is certainly no shortage of good advice on the topic.  On the College Board‘s website, for example, Dean Schmill of MIT advises you to be honest in your self-presentation and to read the instructions.  Dean Brenzel of Yale reminds you to be authentic and to have your essays read by others who know you well. Dean Merrill of Connecticut College reminds warns that crafting a good essay takes time and you should make good use of the summer.

This last bit of advice is particularly important.  Students dream of an endless summer, but the break in your exhausting routine of homework and activities is actually short-lived. July is therefore a good time for some tips on writing your college essay:

•    On choosing a topic: For many of you, identifying the topic will seem the hardest part. The Common Application gives you six prompts to choose from, including a “topic of your choice.”  In other words, you can really write about anything under the sun because the topic is merely the vehicle for a larger story: what to tell an admission reader about yourself.  Whether you choose to write about a book, a person or an event, the admissions committee has at best passing interest in that subject, and will instead try and decipher what the essay tells them about you.

•    On controversial subjects and funny stories: Admission officers reassure students that they are free to write on any subject as long as it is honest and authentic, but there are clearly some subjects that will not work as well as others.  Few teenagers are deft enough to handle controversial subjects like their positions on abortion, presidential politics or foreign wars, with more depth than dogma.  Funny is good, but it works best if your unknown reader actually shares your sense of humor.  As with any writing, keep your audience in mind: admission officers are educated adults who are unlikely to share the social tastes of teenage girls and locker room boys, experienced enough to have read countless essays on every topic under the sun, and are above all led by the needs of their institutions.

•    On writing well: It is hard to separate what you are saying from how you say it.  With a college essay good writing is especially important since admission officers are also trying to gauge something about your academic preparation and intellectual depth.  This is not the moment to try and impress by choking out long words and unfamiliar phrases, and you are well-advised to follow the advice of William Zinsser in his On Writing Well, when he warns against the tendency to “inflate and thereby sound important.”

The American personal essay is unique in the world of university admissions. It is not as important to selective colleges as a student’s academic performance – as admission officers like to say, a good essay can help heal the sick but it cannot resuscitate the dead.  It is nevertheless hugely significant in applicant pools where many students share similarly high achievements and equal evidence of hard work. And in the process it gives young people with very busy lives a moment to reflect on the opportunities and meaning of those lives.

College searching: what information matters and why

This summer rising seniors and juniors are actively researching colleges in order to plan trips and identify the schools to which they may want to apply. These are indeed important summer activities, and there is no shortage of resources to use – from college guides like Fiske to online search engines and college websites.

But this flood of resources does not tell students why the information they are gathering, matters.  They read about class size and student to faculty ratios, the number of undergraduates and even graduation rates. But none of this means much unless they also know why all those bits and pieces of information may, or may not, matter to them.  Big school or small, open curriculum or core, college or university, residential or commuter – none of these qualities are necessarily good or bad in the abstract.  Their value derives from whatever a particular young person needs in order to thrive at college.

Here are some of the choices students may consider:

  • Big or small: At larger schools class size usually depends on the level of the course, but at smaller colleges most classes are almost inevitably smaller. To one student class size will make no difference at all to the learning experience; to another, it will mean being deprived of focused attention and mentoring support that he or she needs to do well.  For these students, the presence of an honors college may be important to explore.
  • University or college: While most colleges have no graduate school at all, research universities may have as many graduate students as undergraduates.  For some students, access to the greater research resources of a university (resources necessary to train graduate students), will be very appealing.  But yet another may feel that those graduate students siphon off the university’s attention away from undergraduate teaching.
  • Availability of undergraduate research: Research takes place at all colleges and universities, but students should note how accessible research opportunities are to undergraduates.  In some fields of study, doing research beyond what is required in class may be unusual. But if you are excited by the idea of producing knowledge or simply know that research hones skills and adds to a resume, the availability of such opportunities at schools like Harvey Mudd may be reason to choose one institution over another.
  • Study abroad: High school students often make note of study abroad programs, even though many college students will in fact study overseas with programs administered by a school or organization other than their own.  But even though you can still spend a semester in Spain even if your own school does not offer such a program, your college’s commitment (or indifference) to the value of studying abroad may have an impact on how readily it grants you credit for courses taken elsewhere.
  • Curriculum: Even though college is presumably above all an academic experience, many high school students have no idea how a liberal arts college’s curriculum is structured or why they should care.  These curricula do in fact all try to achieve the same thing: a well-rounded education in which a student is exposed to a broad range of ways of thinking.  But they get students there in different ways, and while one applicant may find the shared intellectual conversation of a core curriculum exciting, another may find it restrictive. Similarly, the same open curriculum that some students find liberating may perplex or intimidate others.
  • Range of majors: High school students often understand a liberal arts education as little more than the chance “to study a lot of different stuff,” and may spend more time checking out the school’s mascot or reading about its traditions than they will spend on the school’s list of majors or the websites of specific departments.  This superficial understanding of a liberal arts education is reinforced by an application that may not ask you about your future major and the knowledge that you may change your mind anyway.  But there is a difference between thinking broadly and being intellectually scattered, and if you are interested in studying Classics, Geophysics or anything else, whether or not you change your mind later, you should make sure your college offers you the chance to explore that field!

 

These days everyone in college admissions talks about the idea of a good “fit.” But whether one is buying a suit or choosing a college, fit is about individual measurement and taste, and students should examine the information they gather about each school through a lens of self-awareness and personal reflection.

 

History as a college major?

Recently the History Department at Rice University offered a class on “Methods and Theory in History,” aimed at introducing history majors to the demands of upper division seminars and honors theses. But the class also presented history majors with a panel discussion on life after college with a history degree, in which four current students and recent alumni spoke about the trajectory of their own careers and intellectual development with a history degree.  As it happens, my son, a recent Rice history graduate now making his way in Houston’s natural gas sector, was one.

 

Concern with the usefulness of a history degree has been a long time coming, and occupies the mind of high school seniors and their parents as they look towards college.  Families fret about new economic realities, including unemployment amongst recent graduates and huge student debts. Traditionally many viewed a history degree as a common avenue into law school, but now law schools are shrinking in the face of declining demand. New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, in a piece entitled The Imperiled Promise of College, recently highlighted these concerns.  Bruni pointed out that according to an Associated Press analysis of data from 2011, 53.6 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 were unemployed or, if they were lucky, merely underemployed, which means they were in jobs for which their degrees weren’t necessary.

 

No wonder then that many students feel compelled to set aside their love of history and consider more practical fields as they look towards college – Stanford, with one of the top departments in the country, now only graduates about 70 history majors a year, and at Yale where history has historically been one of the most popular majors, the number of history degrees granted fell from 217 to 131 in the last ten years.

 

Bruni is indeed right in cautioning students that hard economic times require them to be thoughtful, flexible and proactive as they think about their education. But students who love history and would like to study it in college, should not despair either!  If the problem with a history degree is that it does not come with a technical expertise that will ensure a job – like a degree in engineering or nursing may – that flexibility is also an asset.  As that panel at Rice confirmed, countless history majors are still leaving college to find interesting, productive and steady careers in an astonishing diversity of careers, as they always have: in politics and law, entertainment and news (Edward Norton, Steve Carrell, Sacha Baron Cohen), writing (Malcolm Gladwell) and business (Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook).

 

This is surprising only to those who remember history as the mindless memorization inflicted by Mrs. Smith on their fifth grade class.  In college, history students learn to gather, analyze and interpret conflicting evidence.  They construct arguments that fit the evidence, study change over time, and learn to communicate all of that with good writing. There are few profession in which demand for these skills – research, critical and constructive analysis, and the ability to communicate well – is not at a premium. In fact, William Sullivan, a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, argues that narrow pre-professional programs, ” do not give students the depth they need to be morally engaged citizens and intellectually agile workers.”  An undergraduate degree in history, on the other hand, will give students, whatever their future careers, exactly that kind of flexibility and critical judgment.  Look at the list that the recent SUES committee on undergraduate education at Stanford identified as important skills that Stanford students ought to gain during their time on the Farm: “the capacity to communicate, critical thinking, aesthetic and interpretive judgment; formal and quantitative reason­ing skills; an ability to think historically; facility in both sci­entific and social scientific analysis, including the abilities to formulate and test hypotheses, assess data, and weigh competing theories; and, last but not least, a rich capacity for creative expression, in whatever domain or field.”

 

Why do we still need students to study history?  According to the American Historical Association, it is how we “gain access to the laboratory of human experience.”  Whether a student wants to become a businessman who needs to understand China’s position on international trade, a teacher in high school, a researcher for a think tank on social policy, a government employee or an online journalist, studying history will impart useful knowledge and strong analytical and communication skills.  And in a rapidly changing world, the study of history will above all give students the flexibility and adaptability to keep up the pace.

Waiting on the waitlist

High school seniors have opened the envelopes, received emails or logged into websites to discover the result of their college applications.  For many the news was very good or very bad – they were admitted to a college and have a decision to make, or that college will no longer be on the menu because they were denied.

For many the end result will be far more uncertain, however.  Instead of a clear yes or no, they received a warm and encouraging letter telling them that they have been placed on the waitlist.  Some will view this as good news (the door is still ajar) or as bad (they were not admitted), but the ambiguity leaves students wondering what this means and what to do about it.

The why of waitlists is easy: as students apply to more colleges, it becomes harder for colleges to estimate how many applicants will actually accept their offer of admission and they pursue various enrollment strategies. Waitlists are one such device to manage the uncertainty of a lesser yield. The institutional yield rate for colleges has steadily declined: nationally on average yield dipped from 49 percent in 2001, to 45 percent in 2007 and 41 percent in the Fall 2010 cycle.  Not surprisingly, more colleges reported using a waitlist: 39 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2010.

In the end, however, only for a minority of students will their persistence in staying on a waitlist pay off: in the 2009 cycle colleges nationally accepted 34 percent of students on their waitlists, and in the 2010 cycle, on average 28 percent.  If those odds seem reasonable, remember that the more selective a college, the more students will accept its offers of admission and the fewer spots will open up for waitlisted students.  In 2010 Yale reported, for example, that it had over 900 students on the waitlist but only about 100 made it into the class.  Most selective colleges will not have a numbered priority amongst many hundreds of waitlisted students, but will admit students according to institutional needs – fixing a gender imbalance, for example, pulling in more engineers, or answering a need for racial, socio-economic or geographic diversity.  In other words, all students on the waitlist may not be equal!

Given all of this, what is a student to do when places on a waitlist?
•    Decide how badly do you still want to attend that college.  It is okay to cut your losses, move on, and bond with your new home.  You can throw yourself into Facebook discussions with future friends and roommates and get back to finishing high school joyfully and successfully. After all, your success at college and in life will not be determined by the name on your college gate but by what you choose to do once it closes behind you.
•    If you remain interested, by all means stay on the waitlist. But know that it may be a long shot, and plan accordingly: accept another offer meanwhile, negotiate your financial aid if necessary and pay your deposit if required.
•    Respond to your waitlist offer with a note reiterating your continued interest in the school.  If a space opens up, admission officers will have some leeway in choosing the candidate they put forward for that spot but will definitely make their choice with yield in mind. Update the college on any new achievements and changes, and make it clear that you remain interested and will attend if taken from the waitlist.  At this point, individual admission officers too are desperately keen to be done!

Amidst all the appropriate concern over bloated waitlists that go nowhere, it is worth remembering that waitlists also have a more human face.  Admission officers at very selective colleges are faced everyday with the difficult task of choosing amongst a large collection of impressive and interesting young people who have worked hard to earn for themselves a chance to be admitted to top universities.  Most will not be admitted, however, and sometimes placing a student on the waitlist instead of slamming the door shut can also allow an admission officer a brief sense of still advocating on behalf of a much-admired young man or woman, or at the very least show the student that his or her efforts have been noticed and valued.

Almost there: the academic performance of accepted students

With March well on its way, many high school seniors have either been accepted into Early application schools or are beginning to receive acceptance letters from their Regular decision colleges. After the celebration and relief, some will begin to believe they are in fact already in college and that high school is, well, so last year. They will start taking skating on homework, consider dropping that pesky math course that requires hard work, and say things like, “I am not really going to study history/science at college anyway.”

There is only one appropriate response: don’t! The culture of college admission often encourages students to think of high school as little more than preparation for college applications. Once you have achieved admission to college, there seems little reason to keep going in high school. But college applications are nothing but a point of transition between these two experiences – it is not the main act for either.

• Your high school education has value of its own – after all, if you don’t go to college, this may be the end of your formal schooling. Even if you go to college and study engineering, for example, you may never do much history again, and if you major in political science, other than some general education requirement, you may never be exposed to geometry again. And right now that may seem like no big loss to you, but those are important bits of knowledge in your daily life as an adult – as you measure your new kitchen counter or read your newspaper – and if miss the opportunity to gain such skills in high school, it may become harder to get back to them.

• Once you are at college, you are not starting over but building on a prior knowledge of reading, writing, and mathematical literacy. If you skip out on that preparation, you go to college just a little further behind than you may have been otherwise. Colleges know this, and so they will not look kindly on you changing your senior curriculum because “it is just not that interesting to me.” In college lack of preparation also leaves you less able to discover ideas, applications and even entire subjects that did not occur to you in high school.

• Colleges also know that high school seniors do not necessarily know what is the best preparation even for their intended major. A student who wants to study psychology may need to have a foundation in statistical analysis, an engineering student may find it useful to know some economics or urban studies, and if you fancy yourself a CSI analyst in Miami, you need biochemistry. You are in effect also preparing yourself for the unknown.

• There are also practical reasons why colleges look askance at accepted high school students who give up on rigorous senior learning. They know that if the academic enterprise cannot keep you motivated in high school, it won’t in college either and before too long they may see you before a disciplinary committee on academic progress. They know that if you did not learn good study skills and habits of self-motivation and discipline in high school, your risk of failure at college increases exponentially.

And so, contrary to what you may hope or believe, colleges pay attention to your senior performance even after you have been accepted. If you want to drop an academic course, you simply have to request permission from the college first, and the more selective your college, the more likely they are to say no. In the summer they will check your final school report to see if you maintained the academic record that gave them reason to accept you (measured by grades and courses), and if you did not, you will probably hear from them. Students can have their offers of admission revoked, although this is a rare occurrence. They are more likely to receive from their college a letter of reprimand or a request for an explanation – what the Dean of Admissions at Connecticut College calls an “oops” letter. Having such evidence of your former, slacker self in your file at college is no way to start this new, exciting journey!