The Crisis of Choosing: Which Box Do I Check?

We here at USC recently became members of the Common App family. During the summer, our staff takes the time to fill our test applications; to help our processing center make sure the system is working, but also so that we as admission counselors can see what students are actually going through as they apply to be a part of our institution. I strangely love filling out forms and enjoyed the task until I reached the ethnic identity questions. Suddenly, I had flashbacks of being young and confused, thinking to myself “which box am I supposed to check?” Things have changed since the days when I had to fill out these forms. Now, students have the option to check all that apply, or not disclose this information if they so choose. This obviously reflects the quickly changing demographics in which more and more, people are embracing their multicultural identities and are finally able to recognize their diversity. But I always found one thing to be difficult about choosing how to identify: … [Read more...]

There IS Crying in College Tours

The recipe for a college tour chaperone, apparently, is equal parts cat-herder, Realtor, and grief counselor. Last month, I was one of five chaperones for the Ivy League Project, a Central Valley group that took 32 students on an East Coast college tour. Almost all of them were Latino, first-gen, high-achieving sophomores or juniors. These were some of the lessons I learned over spring break: -- Planning a college tour for others really is much tougher than planning one for yourself. If you dare to fly 32 West Coast teens to the East Coast, you can overcome some setbacks. But the devil’s in the details. Our charter bus driver was chronically late, so we missed parts of our scheduled campus visits and half of the Broadway show for which we had prepaid. As for the students, they’re used to more personal space back home. They didn’t move as fast or as orderly as the crowds they impeded in D.C. and Boston. I lost count of the times I called out, “Walk on the right, pass on the left!” … [Read more...]