Wednesday, February 24, 2016

10 Mistakes International Applicants Frequently Make When Applying to U.S. Schools

David Mainiero's college admissions blog post for AdmitSee walks students through ten very common mistakes made by international applicants who are applying to U.S. colleges and graduate schools. 

Many of these mistakes can be chalked up to stark differences in educational culture. In East Asia, these differences are particularly pronounced. The emphasis on standardized testing and rote memorization there, as well as a results-oriented view of education, makes for a steeper learning curve for families seeking to send their children abroad. 

Below is a deeper look into the first cautionary tip from David's post: 

To many people, the idea of holistic admissions evaluations run counter to everything they previously thought they understood about meritocracy. “Shouldn’t I get in if I have 30 points higher on my SAT than my classmate?” they ask. Partially as a result of the pervasiveness of the test preparation industry, students all over the world are conditioned to focus zealously for their standardized tests. This is the right impulse, but our former admissions officers see it taken too far in almost 75% of international cases.

International students need to at least as much, if not more, time to developing application materials than they do to test preparation over the course of their candidacy. This doesn’t mean that international should spend three years writing their essays. However, it means that they need to be actively cultivating relationships with potential recommenders, strategically deepening their involvement in activities about which they are truly passionate, and working through a whole host of other application issues that are frequently overlooked by students all over the world.

International students who are required to take English literacy tests like the TOEFL or IELTS need to understand what those tests are used for, and how they are evaluated in conjunction with other data points (SAT Writing, Critical Reading, grades in English courses, writing quality of application) to make judgments about a student’s ability to succeed in an all-English learning environment. At a certain very clear point, usually slightly above a school’s TOEFL/IELTS minimum, there are hugely diminishing returns to trying to improve that score.

Remember, Harvard rejects plenty of applicants with perfect scores every year. Standardized test scores are just going to get your foot in the door, but they aren’t going to be what closes it behind you.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

InGenius Prep Anchors in New Haven

Check out this great article about the founding of InGenius Prep and its relationship with the local community in New Haven from the folks over at the New Haven Independent.

InGenius Prep is eager to make connections with local high schools and colleges to help them develop their advising curricula for students on a non-profit basis.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Learning By Doing:" Maker Movement Produces Positive Change in Chinese Educational Culture

The maker movement is a very positive development in education in China, and parallels the rise of innovation labs at United States colleges. For the past several years, schools like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard have touted themselves as hotbeds for entrepreneurially minded students. In the not so distant past, if you were a creator or an entrepreneur, you would be inclined to drop out of school. With stories about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of their schools becoming so popular, and more and more technological innovation on the horizon, institutions of higher education have had to find a way to keep pace.

Thus, these universities have created centers for entrepreneurship, startup accelerators, innovation labs, and other great resources to foster collaboration and creative thinking among the student body. While these are not exactly like the “maker centers” that are sprouting up across China, they too are platforms where students can satisfy their intellectual curiosity in a non-classroom setting and build something tangible. Recently, these schools have sought to admit students who fit the profile of an “innovator.” Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean someone from a technical background who designs products; rather, it means someone who is committed to the development of ideas and has the wherewithal to follow through and see those ideas to fruition. Those types of candidates are particularly impressive to admissions offices, especially when their ideas are unique and impactful. And, this isn’t just a short-lived trend. This will likely always be a strong way to impress admissions officers or even job interviewers. There is no better way to demonstrate your work ethic and ability than to actually make one of your ideas happen.

“Maker” education centers in China have marketed themselves to students of all ages ranging from 3 to 18 and including such tasks as soldering a wristwatch to building a robotic car with a Bluetooth control. Students are using “maker spaces” for any creative endeavor whether it’s 3D printing, robotics, or cooking. These centers, or “maker spaces” have sprouted up all over Chin and not just in Beijing and Shanghai, but also in Nanjing, Suzhou, and Chengdu, and many other cities. In 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Education sponsored a collaboration between Intel, Tsinghua University, and the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made a well-publicized visit to Chaihuo Makerspace in Shenzhen.  He commented on his visit that “Makers have revealed the incredible entrepreneurship and creativity of the people. . . this kind of vitality and creativity will be an inexhaustible engine for China’s future economic growth.”

Still yet, Chinese parents have been reluctant to buy into the principle of “learning through doing,” or in this case, “learning through making.” Many parents are singularly focused on results, and are impatient in allowing students to build up the kind of courage and resilience that will be necessary to their future success, and of course, the achievement of results in the first place. Results are not automatic, and there are no shortcuts to them. In the context of building a student’s candidacy for college admissions, this pressure mounts even more. However, parents who want to see their kids earn admission to the top schools in the United States should be patient with the process. Those parents need to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day.

For younger students, these types of classes are great ways to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and get them on track toward immersion in technical subjects. For many students, seeing tangible progress in their work and experiencing the feeling of having completed and built something that they envisioned on their own is priceless in triggering the kind of academic engagement that will make them standout students down the road. For another group of students (generally older students), maker classes represent another avenue by which they can attempt to produce something that is more than a simple line-item on a resume. It’s an opportunity to build something unique that is an expression of a student’s own individuality and passion.

The “Maker” movement builds on a timeless theory of education that is rooted in the Socratic method of not spoonfeeding students answers but rather providing them with resources and guidance to arrive at the answers on their own. This theory has seen a resurgence in the “experiential learning” movement in the United States, which has even found its way into government programs such as Learn and Serve America. Generally, classes that find a way to connect textbook knowledge to tangible achievement and real-world application engage students more and develop much deeper levels of interest.

The “Maker movement” very much comports with InGenius’s unique candidacy building philosophy, and can fit in very well with a student’s academic mentorship/internship plans. For instance, if one of our Candidacy Building students wanted to start building a robot at one of these Maker centers, his personal former admissions officer might suggest that he do so under the guidance of one of InGenius’s Academic Mentors who is a professor at MIT.

As the Maker movement continues to catch on in China, it is important to understand that reflection and engagement are critical components of “learning by doing.” Just showing up isn’t enough. Students need to think critically about what it is they are doing, why they like or dislike it, and how that interest might push them forward in other pursuits.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What to Know About The Coalition Application for College

Joel Butterly, CEO of InGenius Prep, recently gave a presentation in Nanjing clearing up confusion about the Coalition App and comparing it to the Common Application, with which more applicants are obviously more familiar.

The Coalition App has caused quite a stir with parents and students clamoring to know what it's all about and figure out if they are missing anything. To make a long story short, the answer is: no, you aren't missing anything if you don't know anything about the Coalition App.

To read more about my thoughts on the Coalition's entry into the fray of college application alternatives, check out my quotes in the Harvard Crimson's recent article about it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Congratulations to Daniel!

Daniel is a fantastic student and young man with whom we had the pleasure of working. He will undoubtedly make an immediate impact on the Yale campus when he matriculates in the fall. Thankfully, he'll be thousands of miles closer to us now and we can visit much more frequently in person on campus or at the InGenius Prep headquarters in New Haven.

Congratulations again, Daniel! What a tremendous accomplishment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Double Standard on Thrillist

In case you didn't catch Thrillist's blurb on Double Standard as one of the hottest new restaurant openings in downtown San Diego, you can find it linked here.

You can watch Executive Chef Chris Gentile cook up our signature N'duja mussels and clams live here to get a glimpse of what's going on in the kitchen:

Double Standard Kitchenetta's Signatura N'duja Mussels and Clams from David Mainiero on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Thief in Downtown San Diego

Spread this video around to shame this Christmas thief! Who steals a Christmas wreath!

This San Diego Scrooge gets caught redhanded methodically stealing a Christmas wreath from Double Standard Kitchenetta on the corner of 6th and G in the East Village bordering the Gaslamp. Bah humbug! David Mainiero