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How to Be a High School Superstar: A…
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How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into…

by Cal Newport

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How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out) by Cal Newport. Section 12 F: Teen; Planning Your Future.
A generation ago, college admissions officers looked for well-rounded students who were excellent in all academics, led clubs, sports teams and class offices. Over the decades, Cal Newport says, this has changed. NOW colleges look for students who have just one or two deep passionate interests in addition to good GPAs and SATs.
Part 1 of this book, called “The Law of Underscheduling” shows how to carve out time from a high school schedule for exploring – for finding deep interests to which one can dedicate oneself. He shows how certain students have done this and how they have found time to follow an interest they may have begun on a volunteer basis or a hobby, that morphed into a full blown research interest or even a career.
Part 2, “The Law of Focus,” discusses how to focus on that one area of interest and how to pare away wasted time on unrelated activities. He gives tips on making better use of study time to complete a lot of homework during school hours, how to take notes that make studying for exams much easier, and how to simplify one’s academic schedule by eliminating work intensive electives unrelated to one’s primary interest.
Part 3, “The Law of Innovation,” suggests pursuing accomplishments that are hard to explain, but that are not hard to do. For example, it’s easy to understand how one becomes a violinist: take lessons and practice until perfect. However, admissions officers are especially pleased to find a teen intrigued with, say, marine life in a hometown tidal basin, who got permission from a college professor to work in the college marine lab, and who became an expert on the habits of horseshoe crabs – all while still in high school. Admissions officers love to admit students like this – who have an interest and use every opportunity to advance it, even if their GPAs and SATs are on the lower side of their student averages.
This author offers some excellent suggestions. I think that for kids without a deep abiding interest, the author’s suggested free exploration time might be wasted watching TV reruns. However, kids who have budding interests not satisfied by most school programs would probably benefit from free time to work on their interest.
Some curricula DO allow students to develop mastery in one area. For example, my kids took IB theater as their concentration in high school. After four years in drama club and theater classes, they had done every job in theater from directing to lighting design, logged over 1000 hours each, and had won prizes at regional and state thespian events. It wasn’t something as esoteric as horseshoe crabs, but still. Colleges DO look for mastery and special interest in one abiding subject, and if you can help your kids find and focus on that passion, it will certainly look good on a college application.
I think it depends on how self-directed a student is. Some prefer a smorgasbord of subject matter rather than dwelling on one passion. However, most high school students would also love a less stressful four years in high school. Give this book a look as well as reading others in our library about educational planning. And then decide with your teen how to approach high school studies. ( )
  Epiphany-OviedoELCA | May 21, 2016 |
This book presents an alternative way of standing out for college admissions. It advocates standing out by striving for unique achievements instead of relying upon an overloaded schedule with the same classes and activities that everyone else does. There is not a lot of information about study skills, but rather strategies for becoming the most interesting college candidate that you can be. ( )
  michaelwlind | Sep 5, 2011 |
The college application process is possibly the most stressful time a high schooler and their parents will go through especially if applying to any of the top tier colleges. Cal Newport has delivered the definitive playbook on how to make that process less stressful AND make the student stand out form the masses. He shows how to use the three laws of underscheduling, focus and innovation to cultivate the quality he calls "interestingness" - the magic ingredient that will have colleges clamoring to admit that student into their schools. Using a mix of scientific studies, personal experience (he graduated from Dartmouth), and case studies, Newport gives you the "why" and "how" to make a student exceptional above and beyond grades and test scores. The readers who would most benefit from this book would be the ones at the beginning of their high school experience but even my child, a senior, found a wealth of information she could use (I probably would have skipped this book entirely had the title not been so intriguing). I, as a parent, appreciated the fact that I could have saved a small fortune in college prep programs that promised but most likely won't deliver. Turns out that the things that make a student more interesting and competitive don't necessarily cost a lot. This is all information that high school counselors and other parents won't tell you (unless, of course, they have also read this book).

Excellent book, fun to read and highly recommended. It deserved a five star rating but lost half a star due to no index (something that would have been extremely helpful). Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book. ( )
  buchowl | Aug 22, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767932587, Paperback)

Do Less, Live More, Get Accepted
 
 
What if getting into your reach schools didn’t require four years of excessive A.P.-taking, overwhelming activity schedules, and constant stress?
 
In How to Be a High School Superstar, Cal Newport explores the world of relaxed superstars—students who scored spots at the nation’s top colleges by leading uncluttered, low stress, and authentic lives. Drawing from extensive interviews and cutting-edge science, Newport explains the surprising truths behind these superstars’ mixture of happiness and admissions success, including:
 
·        Why doing less is the foundation for becoming more impressive.
·        Why demonstrating passion is meaningless, but being interesting is crucial.
·        Why accomplishments that are hard to explain are better than accomplishments that are hard to do.
 
These insights are accompanied by step-by-step instructions to help any student adopt the relaxed superstar lifestyle—proving that getting into college doesn’t have to be a chore to survive, but instead can be the reward for living a genuinely interesting life.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:51 -0400)

The author of How to Win at College outlines counterintuitive strategies for gaining acceptance into a college of choice while reducing stress levels, offering recommendations for focusing one's efforts and prioritizing goals.

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