College Consulting

When New Chapters Come with New Challenges

The first semester of college is exciting—a new beginning in your life, a new chapter in your story, a new learning environment that promises to be a great fit!

Murilo poses on campus at Duke while visiting an LP Alum

Murilo poses on campus at Duke while visiting an LP Alum

And yet... college students now seek support for emotional and mental health issues in greater numbers than ever before. Since 2009, when anxiety surpassed depression as the leading mental health issue facing college students, the number of students experiencing anxiety has continued to increase each year. It is not clear whether the transition to college itself is a root cause of anxiety or whether college is the first opportunity for some students to access appropriate services or request an intervention.

College students reported causes of anxiety ranging from the challenges associated with managing competing commitments (new classes, clubs, sports, dorm life, Greek life, and other new social opportunities), the challenges associated with managing technology (addiction), homesickness, and the fear of not doing well (or well enough, especially after having worked so hard to get in) or of not getting a job after college.

Even at the secondary level, school administrators report concern about the mental health of students and an increased need for funding to meet these needs. In last year’s survey of school superintendents, for example, the New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) reported a 17% increase in the percentage of superintendents identifying increasing mental-health related services for students as a top funding priority (from 35% to 52%). Across multiple questions related to financial matters, 45% of superintendents responded that the capacity to help students with non-academic needs (including health and mental health) is a significant problem, and when asked to rank three top priorities, should funding beyond what would be needed to maintain current services and meet mandates become available, increasing mental health services emerged as the top priority among superintendents statewide. 

There is a consistent link and a positive correlation between student’s social and emotional well-being and mental health and their school success and academic achievement. Students who achieve academically at a high level are more likely to engage in healthy physical activity on a regular basis, more likely to get healthy sleep, and less likely to engage in risk behaviors and vice versa.

With the shortest day of the year on the immediate horizon, winter break provides students the opportunity not only to sleep in, but to recharge and reflect on the transition to college with their families. Talk with your first-year student (or sophomore or junior) about what’s working well, how to foster healthy relationships and routines, whether he or she feels supported appropriately on campus, and how to grow academically each new day as the days begin once again to lengthen towards spring.

At LogicPrep, we’re committed to supporting students throughout their entire journey - and that extends through college. Interested in learning some new organizational techniques or chatting about time management? Looking for support in Into to Calc or Econ or Psych? Our team is - and remains - here for you every step of the way.

Highlights from NACAC 2018

Every year college admissions professionals gather for the NACAC Conference to discuss the trends happening in the world of admissions. The conference this year took place in Salt Lake City and covered a number of new and exciting topics.

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A new way to read applications - Committee Based Evaluations

There is a relatively new way that applications are being read in admissions offices called Committee Based Evaluations that was started by an admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, when you apply to Penn, your application is read by two people — at the same time, sitting right next to each other. One will be the "driver;” this person manages the “territory” (admissions speak for the geographic location) that the application is coming from. The driver is someone who is familiar with your school’s curriculum, opportunities, and overall grading system, and will focus on the more quantitative and academic side of your app (transcript, school profile, counselor recommendation, and teacher recommendations). The second reader will be assessing the more personal and qualitative components of your app (the application, essays, alumni interview, and any additional information or recommendations). The two readers will then discuss the applicant together as they read through the application to ensure the most thorough read. This strategy guarantees more eyes on every application — focusing on each facet — and we won’t be surprised if more colleges begin to adopt this procedure in the coming seasons.

What is Early Decision 2 really?

A panel of Admission Officers from Claremont McKenna, Colorado College, and University of Chicago examined Early Decision 2 and why those acceptance rates are significantly lower than Early Decision 1. Claremont McKenna saw a 13% drop in acceptances between the two rounds, Colorado College saw a 9% drop, and the University of Chicago declined to share their numbers. However, there were a few themes throughout all of their presentations that alluded to why this is the case. In addition to being a larger applicant pool in Early Decision 1 as opposed to Early Decision 2, students with “hooks” - something that allows them to stand out in the process - most often apply in the first Early Decision round. These students are the legacies and recruited athletes and oftentimes are able to have the conversation with admissions (via a coach) before applying, helping to ensure that their Early choice is within reach. The other notable difference that everyone (myself included) saw between the rounds is that the strength of the Early Decision 2 pool is weaker than Early Decision 1. Not in such a way that it makes it easier for a student to get in through ED2 as opposed to ED1, but because students sometimes overreach on where they are applying. This makes the choice of selecting an Early Decision 2 school that much more strategic for those students who either don’t get into their Early Decision 1 school or don’t apply in the first round.

The TOEFL has competition

Duolingo, the popular language learning platform, has rolled out a competitor to the TOEFL test. Using the data they’ve collected on language learning patterns from its millions of users, they’re able to test people on their level of English proficiency. They can do this at a much faster rate by having the test adapt to the user’s level of fluency, allowing them to complete it in 45 minutes rather than 4 hours. This test has already been adopted as an alternative to the TOEFL by top schools including Yale, Duke, WashU, Tufts, UCLA among others. More information (and an opportunity to try the test out) to come soon!

“Fit” isn’t just a buzzword — it’s an increasingly important angle to evaluating college applications.

The vast majority of universities are moving towards putting more emphasis on "fit.” A number of admission officers and deans that we spoke with brought up the importance of using fit to prioritize applicants — in a manner more prominent than it has been in years past. They spoke about this in the sense that applicants who may seem qualified for a school, but don't fit in (one example given was a non-STEM student applying to CalTech) wouldn't be accepted. On the other hand, students who might seem a little under qualified for a given school but are a really good fit for the campus and academic life would, in fact, be offered a spot. While this concept has always been a factor in the admissions process, it seems as though it will be weighed even more heavily. With this in mind, the narrative students share is even more important than ever.

You have more control over your recommendation letter than you think

Some high schools are developing a new format for writing letters of recommendation. While not the most groundbreaking news, some schools are trying to structure their letters to have individual sections for showing (1) how the student did in the larger context, (2) what his or her activities and interests are, and (3) what kind of impact he or she has made on the community or school at large. This means that it’s now more important than ever for students to diligently fill out their “brag sheets” — a term often applied to the self-reporting form students submit to guidance counselors. If this isn’t an option at your school, take the initiative to send your guidance counselor a summary of your achievements and contributions to your classrooms and community. This way, you can be sure your counselor will have plenty of glowing anecdotal information to draw from when drafting your recommendation letter.

Early Decision Notification Dates 2018-2019

You’ve completed your Early applications, and now you’re playing the waiting game. When do you find out if you’ve been accepted? We’ve got all of your Early Decision/Early Action notification dates for the Class of 2023 right here:

Georgetown University

Georgetown University

Amherst College - December 15

Babson College - Mid-December (Early Decision) / January 1st (Early Action)

Barnard College - Mid-December

Boston College - December 25

Boston University - December 15

Brandeis University - December 15

Brown University - Mid-December

Cal Tech - Mid-December

Carnegie Mellon University - December 15

Columbia University - Mid-December

Cornell University - Mid-December

Dartmouth College - Mid-December

Duke University - December 15

Emory University - By December 15

George Washington University - Mid-December

Georgetown University - December 15

Hamilton College - December 15

Harvard University - Mid-December

Harvey Mudd College - December 15 (decisions mailed)

Johns Hopkins University - By December 15

Middlebury College - Mid-December

MIT - Mid-December

New York University - December 15

Northwestern University - December 15

Notre Dame University - Mid-December

Pomona College - By December 15

Princeton University - Mid-December

Stanford University - By December 15

Swarthmore College - By December 15

Tufts University - Mid-December

Tulane University - December 15 (Early Decision / January 15 (Early Action)

University of Chicago - Mid-December (both Early Action and Early Decision)

University of Michigan - By December 24

University of Pennsylvania - Mid-December

University of Virginia - January 31

Vanderbilt University - December 15

Washington University in St. Louis - Mid-December

Wellesley College - Mid-December

Williams College - By December 15

Yale University - Mid-December

Expect these dates to change as December approaches. We’ll do our best to update dates as they become available.

LogicPrep's Favorite College Application Essay Prompts (and How to Answer Them)

We asked our team of experts to share their favorite (or least favorite!) college application essay prompt and how they recommend responding. See their advice below!

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Andrew

Washington University in St. Louis: Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit.

Andrew’s tip: A question like this is great because it's inherently exciting. There's no implied expectation to start with some wild hook or pithy remark. Really, the best way to start with this kind of question is just with free brainstorming, or even going back-and-forth with a friend. Imagine: what kind of class would you read in a course catalogue and go nuts over? Or start listing out some of your favorite (or just recent!) classes, books, movies, etc. and start spitballing: what grabbed you? Once you've filled a half page (or more!) with everything that jumps to mind, start rereading your notes. Do any immediately lead you to ask another question? These cascading questions can be a great sign that you really have an interest to describe here.


David

Villanova University: Describe a book, movie, song, or other work of art that has been significant to you since you were young and how its meaning has changed for you as you have grown. 

David’s tip: I love this one because it allows you to both revel in a work of art or pop culture you've loved as a kid and also show the tools you have now to look at it with more adult eyes. I recommend going back to something you loved before you were, say, 7. Because all great works you love as a kid have so much more there waiting to be explored!


Eli & Julia

University of Virginia: What’s your favorite word and why?

Eli’s tip: This is a great chance to be creative and really stand out in the process - think outside the box!

Julia’s tip: This prompt allows you to fill in the cracks of your application with whatever aspect of your personality you feel hasn't been addressed elsewhere. Is the rest of your application quite serious? Choose a silly word (like my personal favorite, "guacamole" -- it's impossible to say without smiling). Are you bilingual? Choose a non-English word of significance to you. A language nerd? Choose something with an interesting etymology, like "clue". Still can't come up with anything? Then work your way backward: pick a story that you want to share with your Admissions Officer, and come up with a word that will serve as a segue allowing you to tell your tale.


Fausto & Marjorie

Common Application: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Fausto’s tip: This question gives you an opportunity to acknowledge a time when you struggled and overcame a challenge. By reflecting on challenges and setbacks, you will demonstrates courage, perseverance, a sense of maturity and self introspection. Think of an obstacle that resulted in an "aha" moment. Show how that obstacle was transformational - what did you learn? how did you change?

Marjorie’s tip: This is actually my least favorite prompt. Like any prompt, the “lessons we take” from setbacks or failures can result in a good essay, but so often it’s a trap!  Students set up artificial “challenges” wherein other students misbehave (e.g. in a homophobic, misogynist, or racist manner) and, having witnessed this behavior, they confront the “challenge” of what to do about it! This results in a judgmental rather than an introspective narrative. Or worse, the student addresses an authentic setback or failure...but dwells on actual failure resulting in an essay leaving what might best be characterized as a “Wah wahhhhhhh” impression rather than a positive impression on the reader.


Grace

Stanford University: The "write a letter to your roommate" essay.

Grace’s tip: I'd recommend answering it colloquially (without being disrespectful or crass, of course) while revealing your voice and personality, any quirks and weird fun facts about yourself, and general excitement about specific opportunities (name them) Stanford has to offer -- and how you're pumped to explore all of those things together with your roommate. 


Matthew

University of California Application: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  

Matthew’s tip: I love the way this question defines creativity in such a broad fashion, beyond the usual associations the term has with the arts. I'd recommend writing about an activity they don't suggest. Baking cookies? Doodling on your converse sneakers? The weirder, the better! 


Sean

Yale University: Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What do you hope to add to your suitemates' experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?

Sean’s tip: I love this Yale-specific question because it brings back a flood of memories from my time in the residential college system. Having gone through Yale, I would advise someone who is applying to lean into the second half of the question. "What do you hope they will add to yours?" During my time at Yale, I was exposed to some truly unique people and experiences, and most of them happened in the form of impromptu trips to people's hometowns, meals they cooked, or concerts of their favorite bands. These experiences both broadened my interests and helped me make life long friends. It may sound tacky but its true, and that is one of the goals of Yale's residential college system. If you can speak to this, the admissions officers will see that you are applying for a wonderful reason: your peers.


Stuck on an essay prompt not listed here? We can help. Contact us today to get started!

How to Pick an Early Decision School

For seniors, the timeline to submitting applications is getting shorter and shorter, leaving many asking the question of how to select a school for Early Decision. While the school should definitely be a reach (but a reasonable one!), lots of students are torn between two or three places and wondering how to make up their minds. One of the best ways to do that is going back to the schools you are considering this fall and doing a deeper dive on your visit before applications are due.

On these return visits, I always recommend going while school is in session, which it generally is between now and November 1st. You want to use this time on campus to get a sense of what life is like there for students and how you would fit in. By now, you probably have a better sense of what you would like to do in college, even if you haven’t completely made up your mind. You know what types of classroom environments you’d like to be in and what types of people you’d like to be around. So look for that!

When you’re there on campus, try and imagine what life would be like for you a year from now. What classes would you be taking? Go sit in on one of those. Where would you be having your meals with friends? Go eat in that dining hall. How would you be spending your free time? Go read the student newspaper to see what is happening on campus. Maybe you can even stop by a football game, theater production, or lecture to see the environment there as well.

I would also spend some time around campus getting answers to questions that you are going to have down the road. How easy is it to change majors? What classes are you required to take (and is this a deal breaker for you)? How accessible are the professors? What is the Career Development Office like? Feel free to even drop by the office to get a sense of how they are working with students and helping them get set for life after college. These are all things that will come up down the road, so why not get a jump on them now before you sign a binding Early Decision commitment?

Julia returns to her alma mater, Princeton!

Julia returns to her alma mater, Princeton!

And as always, don’t hesitate to ask your instructors about their experience if they went to one of these schools you’re considering. Also, consider asking one of our advisors if any LP alum are attending a school you’re considering. We would be happy to connect you with them so you can really learn what it’s like to be a student there. Everyone loves to brag about their alma mater, and this decision is important. So, let us know how we can help you to feel truly empowered to make your final decision.

On Bookstores & Majors

My favorite bookstore in the world in the same city as my favorite sister in the world (side note: I have only one sister). It’s called Powell’s Books, which is an enormous warehouse of a building, yet somehow also feels cozy. In color-coded room after color-coded room, there are books on every possible subject and in every genre. Best of all, Powell’s shelves new and used books together, so If I’m traveling to Berlin, say, I can buy the latest guidebook… along with a 19th-century traveler’s diary.

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Nearly every Dec 26th, my family goes. And every time we enter, the same thing happens: we make beelines to different sections, roam the store following our varied interests, and don’t see each other again till we meet in the café with piles of books to choose from. Our tastes aren’t always what a stranger would guess: for instance, my brother, a composer, somehow finds himself in the international mysteries; I predictably dart for languages but somehow wind up in monographs about animal intelligence.

I’ve been thinking about Powell’s because it’s college essay writing season – and after my first question (“what do you plan to major in?”) I get to ask one of my favorites: if you were trapped in Powell’s Bookstore -- and had no phone -- where would you go? Which is another way of saying: what really makes you interested? What subjects actually bring you pleasure? And be specific, because Powell’s is huge! If you love “sports,” my next question will be: which sports? And then: the history of that sport? Stats? Memoirs of? Business management?

The larger question, of course, is what strange byways of knowledge would you like to explore? Because if I know which section of Powell’s you’d wind up in, I know something about you -– something better than what your major might be. I know what you truly find fascinating. And that is the beginning of really knowing someone.

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So choose your major wisely, but also: make sure at college – and in life – you make time to wander the bookshelves of Powell’s. Whether or not you actually find yourself in the real Powell’s or not.

LogicPrep in Forbes: Mentorship Lessons From Running an Education Company

As the founder of an education company that prepares high school students for college, Lindsay is often asked about LogicPrep's average test score improvement, college acceptance rates and other metrics by which we measure success.

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While we are deeply proud of our students’ outcomes, she feels that one of LogicPrep's greatest strengths is the least measurable (at least in numerical terms). What makes her most proud is when a student says that they enjoyed coming into our office, connected with their instructors and felt supported and encouraged.

Mentorship, which is such a powerful motivator for our students, has been equally essential to Lindsay's own development as a CEO. But it is by working with students and seeing them thrive that she’s come to learn how to foster these relationships in business.

Read Lindsay's latest feature in Forbes, which talks about the role of mentorship in her life and why fostering supportive, motivating relationships is essential to our students' success.

How to Spend Your Summer: Consider Volunteering Your Time

During the long, lazy days of summer, it’s so tempting to simply relax and unwind after a busy year in school. However, you will have already read many of the posts on this blog encouraging you to make good use of this time, to read, to experience new things, travel and experience new cultures… Here’s another suggestion: volunteer your time to a non-profit organization. As well as helping the organization, this can benefit you in many ways: valuable experience for your resumé, a sense of community, well-being, and purpose, new connections, and friends.

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I have been volunteering my time from home for some years translating for non-profit organizations. However, earlier this year, I decided to fulfill a promise I had been making. I used to live in France and now, back in the UK, I like to spend my vacations across the small pond that we call the English Channel, getting my fix of French cheese! Each time I travel, I am aware of the refugees that are stuck in the port town of Calais and I have often said to myself that I will go there and do something to make a difference to these people’s lives, however small. This promise was hard to fulfill: there were family commitments, work, life took over. After seeing so much in the news about the desperate people who travel to the region to escape war, persecution and uncertain political situations in their own countries, finally, I decided that I just had to take action.

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I booked a few days off work and began my research. I discovered many non-profits working in Calais, supporting the refugees and accepting short-term volunteers. I posted in my local refugee help group on social media and within a couple of hours had managed to contact a group locally who were sending volunteers each weekend for the whole month. I found a woman who had booked the same dates as me and was looking for someone to take along, so I could just fit in with her plans – amazing, what a coincidence!

I decided to reach out to the community to see if I could bring donations of items that were needed. It was still cold, so I put out a call for hats, gloves and scarves, to my nearby and online friends as well as local churches. The generous response was overwhelming and I ended up taking 8 sacks of donations.

On arriving in France, I was nervous going to the warehouse that would soon be my place of work with the organisation Help Refugees. I need not have worried, I was met by a group of friendly, dedicated volunteers and staff, part of a community where everyone is accepted and respected, whatever their background or identity. During morning briefing, I learned more about the situation in Calais and how, sadly, the authorities were hostile towards refugees sleeping rough and also towards volunteers distributing food. I was then taken on a tour and discovered that I would spend the first part of my stay working in the warehouse, sorting blankets and sleeping bags that had been donated by the public. We had a huge sense of satisfaction when we had organised the area and made an inventory of all the items.

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The next day, I helped out with the organisation Refugee Community Kitchen. These amazing people cook hearty vegan curries for around 1000 refugees each day, as well as for the volunteers. The kitchen was an upbeat place to work; I prepped veg, washed up and prepared the portions for distribution while chatting to the other volunteers. It was interesting to hear their stories: many recent graduates who were taking a year out, a doctor who had given up her only free weekend in months to fly down from Scotland, an American who had already been volunteering in Greece, people from all backgrounds, all united in the common cause of helping people who had lost so much.

I left feeling that I had only made a minor contribution, but had gained so much: I saw a great deal of kindness and dedication and my faith was restored in humanity. I will be going back later this month to take some more donations and check in with how things are going.

I only gave a weekend, but it was a life-changing experience. I urge you to find something that you can be passionate about and give your time to. It doesn’t need to be a big commitment, even if it’s just for a few days over the remaining weeks of summer, you can make a difference and I guarantee that you will also benefit from what you choose to do.

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Seniors: How to Prep for College App Season

Dear Seniors,

With the blink of an eye, it’s somehow already August -- and before we can blink twice more, November 1 will be around the corner!

And we all know why November 1 matters.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we tumble towards this important date:

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Draft up your college essay(s)

Once your school year starts up again, you’ll have homework, athletics, and other extracurriculars demanding much of your time. That’s why it’s a good idea to aim to return to school with a solid Common Application essay draft -- and at least a few Early Decision/Early Action supplements -- ready to go. We encourage you to research the universities on your list in depth so you can craft thoughtful, school-specific supplemental essays. This will make it super easy for admission officers to imagine you thriving on their campus (and hopefully welcome you into the incoming class!)

 

Consider creating a resume

While many of your favorites, most time-consuming extracurricular activities will likely be included in your Common App list already, you may want to share additional activities that have mattered to you. The “additional information” section of your Common App is a perfect place to include these, and it’s a good idea to format each one with organized bullet points -- just like you would a resume.

 

Put together a portfolio

In addition to your intellectual curiosity, heart of gold, and impact in your communities, universities also love to learn about your artistic talents and passions. Have you invested a lot of time in a specific artistic discipline? If so, you may want to consider submitting an Art Supplement. Be sure to plan ahead, as each school that accepts this supplement may have different requirements -- and sometimes different (earlier) deadlines -- for students who want their portfolios reviewed with their whole application.

 

Follow up with your recommenders

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You’ve heard me say it many times by now, but I’ll say it again -- your recommendation letters can have a huge impact on your overall application. Many of you have just returned from fulfilling summers with exciting new academic and extracurricular experiences. Don’t forget to check in with your recommenders, ask them how they are doing, share any new information with them, and confirm that they have everything they need to write you a positively glowing letter.

 

Don’t forget about standardized testing

You thought I’d never mention it, right? Sorry :) October is typically the last standardized test that counts in time for Early Action/Decision applications, so be sure to register if you’d feel more confident taking it one last time. Remember: in addition to submitting your applications, you’ll also be responsible for releasing your standardized testing record to each university.

 

Gear up for interviews

Once you’ve submitted your application, some schools may contact you for interviews, which are most often used as another data point in a holistic review of your application. For some schools, interviews are optional, while for others, they are mandatory. Either way, you’ll want to carve out some time to prepare for these with articulate responses about your favorite academic subjects and teachers, leadership impact, curiosities about the university, and stories about other important experiences that have shaped you into who you are today.

 

Maintain academic excellence

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Remember, senior year grades matter, so now is not the time to let “Senioritis” kick in! Early applications will include grades from your first quarter, and Regular Decision applications will request midyear reports from your counselors. If you’re deferred in the Early round, it’s possible that admission officers want to see your full first semester grades from senior year, so keep up (or even improve!) your academic performance.

 

And even after Nov 1…

Just because you hit “submit” doesn’t mean you can forget about your application altogether. Be sure to check your inbox for confirmation about your application. Most schools will send you a link to a portal to track your application status. If you notice that any part of your application is missing, it’s your responsibility to make sure the school receives it promptly. Schools cannot review your application or share admission decisions with you without receiving your complete application.
 

Whew! This may seem like a lot to keep in mind in a short period of time. Luckily, the whole team at LogicPrep is here to help you succeed and put forward the best version of yourselves. No matter what, we know you’ll get into schools where you will thrive, not just as scholars, but as human beings ready to make an impact wherever you ultimately land. Don’t forget that we are your biggest fans!

My Biggest Regret in College & How You Can Avoid the Same Mistake

Ah, summer. The sunny skies, the green green grass. Beach time if you're lucky, study time if you're ... well, study time. Period.

Some of you are heading back to high school in the fall for another year, inching (or, from your parents' perspectives, hurtling) toward the Great Launch to College. And some of you are making the Great Launch even as we speak, preparing to enter a brand new world, surrounded by exciting new people and exciting new opportunities. Either way, in the short term or the (not very) long term, you are looking toward a time of choices -- what to learn, whom to hang out with -- and in many cases, it will be hard to make a truly wrong choice. You're going to learn a lot, no matter what you do, and learning is the whole point, and the joy.

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I have exactly one regret about my choices in college. In order to fulfill a curriculum requirement one semester, I was choosing between two science classes: one, a notoriously EASY course in electrical engineering, where the main assignment was to create a rudimentary website by the end of the course; the other, a notoriously HARD class on the physics and acoustics of musical instruments. Now, I'm a musician, and I love everything having to do with music. The acoustics class looked so intriguing ... but I thought to myself, "Do I really want to do hard calculus problems again? Wouldn't I enjoy myself more if I gave myself a break and coasted through the semester this time?" And so, like many others, I chose the website class ... and it nags at me to this day. 

Sound waves from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

Sound waves from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

I got nothing from that easy class. (Well, I guess I got a lousy website, but even that is long gone.) But I still think about what it might have been like to explore the science of how music, my life's greatest passion, is actually physically made. I look at a rock band, or an orchestra, and think, "I could have learned how all those magical things are happening. How the strings vibrate the air, how the overtones color the sounds of the oboe and the electric guitar, how changing the length of the air column in the flute changes the pitch ..." But I didn't. I ... I chose the road MORE traveled by ... and that has made, if not all the difference, at least enough difference that I still look back at where those roads diverged.

So what I'm saying is: when it comes to the choices between the hard and the easy, remember to push yourself. Don't just float down the river; choose the course where there are rapids to navigate, because the rapids are thrilling and exhilarating, and even if you come out exhausted and bedraggled on the other side, you will remember it with joy and pride.

And you know what else? It's never too late to pick the challenge. We live in a world where we can go back and find those textbooks on musical instruments, and learn what we never pushed ourselves to learn back then. So I think I'm gonna go do that ... gonna head down the rapids I steered myself away from so long ago. See you on the other side.