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Recommendations

From the Directors: Fall 2019

Our Advise publication welcomes you to the new academic year with a mix of returning and familiar faves as well as new features. We are proud to debut our new student column, “Active Voices.” Our inaugural piece is authored by Kimberly Marfo, who talks about her campaign to build awareness about the negative effects of microagressions. We also put a familiar name in a continuing feature—our “A Conversation With …” series—where Director Ann Postlewaite will be sitting in the interviewer chair. The fall issue begins with our NHS Rynearson National Adviser of the Year, Donna Murphy, who turned her chapter around to grow not only in numbers, but in heart.
This is the time of year when seniors have college applications on the brain, and you and your colleagues will be asked for recommendations. Ashley Pallie from Pomona College and Calvin Wise from Johns Hopkins University provide a helpful look at how admissions committees read recommendations. And even though college may be further off for middle level students, college aspirations are still important to build for young teens. Patrick Wu of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation talks about the value of building a college-going culture early.
We are privileged to begin the year with you as we share many exciting program updates. More importantly, we can’t wait to showcase the great things happening in your chapters and councils all year long. Our issues may be less frequent this year as we move to a quarterly publication, but our content and love for advisers will be broader and deeper in scope!
Nara Lee
Director of National Honor Societies
Ann Postlewaite
Director of Student Programs

Take 10

Make Them Proud to Be First

Advisers should follow these tips for helping first-generation students with the college exploration and application process:

  • Encourage college attendance aspirations as early as possible—as young as fifth grade.
  • Include families in events or classes that share college information.
  • Save and post fundamental information so it is easily accessible.
  • Utilize local resources such as alumni or school staff.
  • Provide support and don’t make negative assumptions about ability or engagement.

Show, Don’t Tell

Experts Ashley Pallie (Pomona College, Claremont, CA) and Calvin Wise (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD) shared the following advice for advisers who are asked to write letters of recommendation:

  • Be specific and provide examples.
  • Stay away from common generalizations.
  • Stick to one page.
  • Avoid form letters.
  • Highlight a student’s grit and resilience.
  • Be aware of school group readings.

Inspire a
College-Going Culture

 
Patrick Wu, educational adviser at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, offered some great advice for inspiring a college-going culture at the middle level. Consider the following:

  • Have a college T-shirt day where both staff and students are encouraged to participate.
  • Decorate hallways with college pennants or name homerooms after the teachers’ alma maters.
  • Invite alumni or local college representatives as guest speakers to your school.
  • Educate students on college-specific jargon such as the difference between grants and loans.
  • Have students interview college grads and report back to the class about what they learned.

Eliminate Microaggressions

Student Kimberly Marfo shared her journey toward creating an inclusive school community. She gave the following tips for others to follow in her footsteps and create their own “That’s Not What I Meant” campaign to combat microaggressions or similar issues at their school:

  • Make a plan by identifying the problem you wish to solve and possible solutions.
  • Find a sponsor or several sponsors.
  • Start a conversation and share ideas.
  • Organize events and spread your message.
  • Branch out to local organizations and community members.
  • Have fun!