For those of you who are looking for tips on what to do in high school to get into college of your dreams – this post is for you! I have identified four areas that will make your college application shine.
Back in 2013, after my daughter was born, I had opportunity to serve as an ambassador for the Gates Millennium Scholarship. I spoke to students from several high schools in my area, and boy, did I love it!
In my experience, people working in admissions for these four areas to be strong.
Academic Performance (AKA Grades!)
I have great news! If three out of four of these areas pop, that is more than good enough to make you a highly qualified and high-caliber applicant.
I was accepted to several top tier universities. Guess what? I did terrible on the SAT! Acceptance letters still rolled in because my application showcased my strong academic performance, involvement in community service, and leadership roles I took on. A friend of mine had the minimum requirement for community service but was very strong in the other three categories and she got into MIT! The lesson is, do not stress about perfection. If you are already strong in the four areas, that’s an amazing feat. What is most important is to have a well-rounded high school experience!
Now, although I am suggesting that three of the four be strong— I do not mean to abandon the fourth! Do try your best and work hard in all four areas. Your grades should always be as best as you can maintain them. Join as many school activities and organizations as is enjoyable and comfortable for you. What I do not suggest, is letting anything be all consuming.
Trying to perfect all four will almost certainly be a drain on your energy and may wind up making certain areas weaker. For example, if I would have spent countless hours studying even more for the SAT, I would have never had the time to plan a 5k to raise money to support the Down Syndrome Association or had the time to enjoy a trip to New York with the photography club!
So there you have it! Lesson one— schools want a well-rounded student. My action item for you: Reflect on which of these three areas you can focus on. Again, we don’t want to abandon any category!
Stay tuned because my next post will be all about how to make the best in each area.
My bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in education, however, I do not work in an admissions. All suggestions given from my extensive experience!
In this post we will give you bios of 11 black change makers you didn’t learn about in school. Learn the rich history from yesterday and today of some of the most influential, pioneering and badass black Americans who influence our history.
1. Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey was a child during racial segregation and lynchings and grew to have the nickname, “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” for having danced and toured all over the world. He had a strong sense of black pride that developed at an early age while attending a southern baptist church and juke joints. He found dance at Lester Horton’s dance school. Ailey went on to popularize modern dance and his show “Revelations,” is the best known modern dance performance in history. He founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and later the Alvin Ailey school. Although the dancers were multi-racial, Ailey wanted to ensure black dancers were given opportunities because they were often turned away from other performances. He died in 1989, and after his death Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Honor. @alvinailey‘s dances theater continues on today.
Dr. Jemison became the first black woman in space in 1992, going into orbit on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. She was selected to join the Astronaut Corps by @nasa while she was serving the @peacecorps in the 80’s. Currently she is the principal of the 100 Year Starship organization. Oh, and she’s been an actress too! She’s been featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 🚀
This man’s resumé is more than impressive but here’s a little info: @keithboykin1 was the editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties law review, while attending Harvard Law. He later went on to be the highest ranking openly gay staffer in the Clinton White House, as special assistant to the president and Director of Specialty Media. He published his first book in 1996, “One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America.” He is often seen as progressive broadcaster and commentator on CNN, and he is the cohost of “My Two Cents,” a talk show on BET.
If you’re like me, you have never heard of Anna J Cooper despite her impressive contributions to society. Not only was she the first black woman to earn her PhD, she is often referred to as “The Mother of Black Feminism.” Ms. Cooper was born enslaved and at only 9 years old she was able to earn a scholarship and began her teacher training and road to academic excellence.
@angelarye is a change maker currently impacting history. She is an attorney and a liberal political commentator on @cnn and a political analyst for @npr. She is involved in several organizations– including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Angela also co-founded @impactstrategies which encourages young professionals to engage both civically and politically.
Rejecting the idea to become a secretary, Octavia E. Butler entered a field dominated by white men, and became an award winning science-fiction writer. Ms. Butler spread her success around by teaching several writing workshops as well. Furthermore, Octavia Butler’s stories explore far reaching issues of sex, power, and race. Her writing garnered her a diverse following, and she claimed black readers, sci-do fans, and feminists were her most loyal fans.
@janetmock is a transgender activist, a New York Times bestseller, a TV producer & host, an NYU grad (woo woo), and has been a magazine editor. She was assigned male at birth but affirms that she always been female. Her book Redefining is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned in their younger years. She’s also been a guest on Oprah’s (😍) #supersoulsunday. She stands as with other black and trans change makers, like Laverne Cox.
Despite his brilliant mind and his PhD in physics Edward Bouchet was unable to get a job as a college professor because he was black, even though he was one of the only people in country to have attained that academic achievement. Additionally, he taught at some of the only schools that offered rigorous curriculums of chemistry and physics offered to African Americans for 25 years. It was only after death that his work was given accolades with several awards and honors.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, @rachel.cargle is an educator and academic. She is one of the most influential black change makers of our time. Her work focuses on the intersection of womanhood and race. She has a large Instagram following where she asks her followers to #dothework and unlearn the racism that has been perpetuated throughout white culture. For black history month, Rachel has posted a prompt for people to google and learn about important black history. She also is a speaker and tours the country with her lecture, “Unpacking White Feminism.” Rachel writes for Harper’s Bazar. She is also a student at Columbia University, and an entrepreneur.
Ella Baker is one of many black change makers who worked largely behind the scenes with famous civil rights leaders, like MLK. She was a mentor to many other activists. One of her mentees was Rosa Parks. Her work involved empowering the oppressed to advocate for their rights. She also called out racism and classism within the civil rights movement. Ms. Baker worked within the NAACP for 15 years. She started as a secretary and worked her way to becoming the highest ranking woman within the organization. However, she challenged hierarchies within organizations all together.
Atlanta based rapper, Killer Mike is half of the Grammy award winning rap duo, Run the Jewels. He is a political activist whose work leads to empower the black community. In the 2016 election and now, he has been an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders. He invests in property and owns a barber shop. Killer Mike aims to show the black community how they can find financial security and success outside of sports and music. He has recently produced and released a Netflix series, “Trigger Warning: with Killer Mike.” It is enlightening and HILARIOUS, he is certainly one of the highest ranking entertaining black change makers.
Angela Davis is a writer, activist, educator, and revolutionary. Her work is vast and spans decades. She is known for work in prison abolition, she herself was jailed, accused of participating in a prison outbreak but was later cleared. She has written several books, including a title called, “Women, Race, & Class.” Throughout recent history she has spoke out on major events like the Vietnam War, LGBT rights, the war on terror, and was a co-chair for the @womensmarch on Washington in 2017.
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