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Why Experiences Matter: Standing Out on High School and College Applications.

Even as COVID has changed the landscape of higher learning and the requirements it takes for students to be considered at their top university choices, students who take advantage of distinctive opportunities can shine on resumes in a way their other equally competitive counterparts cannot. While many students seek to show a rigorous curriculum on their transcripts with courses in AP, AICE, and IB or dual enrollment, the number of those students is staggeringly high. For example, as of 2020, over 38% of high school students took an AP exam, with the state of Florida ranking second in the highest percentage of exams taken. You can check out the data here. Finding a way to stand out from peers is a good way to differentiate oneself and starting as early as middle school makes sense.


In some cases.

The fact is what students do in middle school is often not considered when it comes to college applications. But it certainly WOULD be taken into consideration if your student was hoping to attend a prestigious boarding high school or a competitive program for which your student has to apply. Certainly, finding a passion for unique and real-world experiences in middle school allows for increased possibilities for the next step.



The same is true for high school. It used to be, top SAT/ACT scores and high gpa or involvement in dual enrollment guaranteed a second glance for the achieving high school student. Post, COVID, however, things have changed. Some top schools are considering doing away with standardized test scores as a requirements, acknowledging COVID's affect on comprehension and learning. That's why helping a high school student stand out from peers is even more essential than in the past.


In a recent podcast with us, Carolyn Kost, college counselor, points out that rigor remains one of the most important factors in a student's education, depending on which college your student is interested in attending. Common Data Set, a website to compare universities and their requirements, can help you in this process.. While AP and IB is not for everyone, these programs are often the most rigorous at a respective school. You can see a general comparison of AP and IB programs here keeping in mind that both programs provide financial benefits at most universities.



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Kost points out that rigor can be demonstrated outside the classroom walls through experiences and established projects which show student growth over time. These kinds of experiences including internships, research, and real-world applications, help students stand out. That is where we can help:


The Aerospace and Innovation Academy's mission is to provide relevant, real-world experiences for middle-high school students in STEM with a focus on aerospace. Students explore their passions in relation to the industry. Some design mission patches and author children's books to inspire the next generation. Some write technical papers and present at national and international conferences. Others submit proposals to NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative and design, build, and fly satellites. The opportunities abound. You can check out more about us at our website or our Facebook page . Our podcast, "Let's Go to Space: BLUESKY Learning" is available on Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and more. You can also see the vodcasts and student presentations at our YouTube page


TOP 5 TAKEAWAYS from the podcast interview:

1. Take the most rigorous curriculum available and remember that rigor is also shown through EXPERIENCES and PASSION PROJECTS.

2. Find a research interest that you can pursue over years that shows grit, perseverance, and results.

3. Make the student the hero of the college application, not a relative who struggled or a rewrite of the bio.

4. Parents, stop CODDLING! Let your student communicate and advocate for themselves.

5. Math tutoring. And more math tutoring.


More about Carolyn Kost:

Check out Carolyn Kost's interview on YouTube here Contact Carolyn Kost at ckost@yahoo.com. Check out her published books here



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