Giving Back

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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Eli Judges BUILD NYC's Business Plan Competition Semi-Finals

Last week, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge at the BUILD NYC Business Plan Competition Semi-Finals. This was put together by BUILD NYC, a college preparation non-profit that "uses entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them to high-school, college & career success."

At this event, the students - who are only in 9th grade - presented the business plans for the products they had made. Their pitches covered everything from market research to customer personas to pricing strategy - material that most people don't even hear about until well into college. 

The products that the students developed also ran a wide range. From an organic skin lotion to the swiss army knife of kitchen utensils to pots with a coating that turns red when the pot heats up, they addressed issues that they themselves dealt with and wanted to find a fix for. After each group presented, including one that was just one brave girl by herself, they responded to questions from the judges before receiving feedback. The students all had incredibly well thought out answers to all of the questions thrown their way and were very prepared for this presentation.

If you are interested in seeing the next stage of their competition on June 3rd judged by celebrities including John Starks, Ebonie Smith, Alysia Reiner and Ron Shuler, you can find out more information here.

 

-Eli S, Director of Academic Consulting

Making Community Service More Meaningful

College admissions counselors across the country have joined forces to create a new report titled Turning the Tide. The report brings into question many of the current norms that exist throughout the college process, starting with the moment kids enter high school when they begin deciding which classes to take, which clubs to join, which service projects to take part in. And of course, all of these decisions are motivated by the same, largely unanswerable, yet still all-important question: will this help my application?

In attempting to reform the college application process, the report isolates three areas in which admissions officers across the country seek change:

  1. Socioeconomic equality among all applicants
  2. A decrease in unnecessary academic stress for many students nationwide
  3. More authentic community service endeavors

While all three of these areas are of vital importance to shifting the way students apply to schools, perhaps the area most easily affected by the applicants themselves is the third shift listed: how can students make their community service experiences more meaningful? Luckily, the report lays out what admissions offices view as a more authentic community service experience. 

“MEANINGFUL, SUSTAINED COMMUNITY SERVICE"

This first section of the report’s suggestions emphasizes that students must be engaged in community service in some long-term capacity. Seeing long lists of 1-day food drives, homeless shelters, and cancer walks does not impress admissions officers. They are looking for community service that an applicant has been involved with throughout their high school experience, perhaps earlier, and will hopefully plan on continuing even after the college process is over. 
The second part of this section, however, emphasizes that the service must be meaningful. Anyone could go volunteer somewhere, but officers want applicants to paint a picture for them. Why did you get involved in this area specifically? What does it mean to you? What has compelled you to continue with this service for so long? They want to see a personal connection between the applicant and the service they are providing. 

“COLLECTIVE ACTION THAT TAKES ON COMMUNITY CHALLENGES”

This section goes into the types of community service that are perhaps more impactful not only on an application, but more importantly in real life. The community service that officers like to see involves an applicant who is working on a team or with a community to combat a problem that affects an entire community. Ideally, the applicant can also show the tangible impact of the work that they are doing. Not to say that all community service does not have a meaningful impact, but officers want to applicants getting involved with teams of people who are trying to combat problems bigger than themselves.

“AUTHENTIC, MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES WITH DIVERSITY”

Officers want applicants getting involved with people outside of their own circles and communities. They want applicants to interact with people of different backgrounds than themselves. This way applicants are not only impacting lives beyond their own communities, but they are expanding their worldview at the same time to understand the hardships of those outside of the bubbles in which they live.

“SERVICE THAT DEVELOPS GRATITUDE AND A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FUTURE”

Essentially, the community service shouldn’t only be impacting the people for which the service is being provided. There should be some kind of shift in the applicant as well. Colleges don’t like to see community service for the sake of community service. Aside from it simply being a good practice to give your time to others in need, officers want to see students who have been impacted by the service they have provided. Perhaps they can brings their experiences to campus and introduce a new club to campus, or maybe just a new way of approaching a problem. Who knows. In any case, if the applicant feels personally affected by the work they’ve done, that is perhaps the best demonstration of the value of such community service, the best demonstration that the time you have supposedly put into this service was really, actually, genuinely AUTHENTIC.

 

-Chad S, Intern

Giving Back in São Paulo

As you might know, at LogicPrep, we're always looking for ways to give back, and LogicPrep São Paulo is no exception. We recently had the opportunity to connect with Brasa/BSCUE, a peer-to-peer organization whose goal is to mentor Brazilian students interested in applying for US colleges. Brasa was in need of test prep books, and we were happy to donate some ACT books to their organization.

Emiliano, pictured above, is a former St. Paul's student, who works with Brasa. Before he starts classes at Stanford next month, he came by LogicPrep São Paulo to collect our book donation.

Thanks Brasa/BSCUE for letting us contribute to your cause!

Congrats to LogicPrep Scholars!

Remember when we were raising funds for two LogicPrep scholars? Well, we have great news...

We reached our goal!

Andrea (MIT) & Ariana (Columbia)

With overwhelming support from the LogicPrep community, we raised over $3000 through donations and matching, which we just presented to Ariana and Andrea today! We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Congrats to both of you and best of luck at MIT & Columbia!

UPDATE: Support LogicPrep's Scholars

A couple of weeks ago, we posted about two talented scholarship students who were both accepted into amazing universities. We also posted a link to our GoFundMe page where we're raising money to buy books and school supplies for these students.

We're happy to announce that we've almost reached our goal!

Because LogicPrep will be matching the donations, dollar-for-dollar, we only need an additional $60 to attain our goal! Please consider donating today-- we're so close!

 

Click here to donate now!

 

A big congratulations!

In 2016, the Truman Scholarship Foundation selected 54 outstanding college students as new Truman Scholars. Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions; leadership training; career and graduate school counseling; and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have outstanding leadership potential and communication skills, be academically excellent, and be committed to careers in government or the non-profit sector.

We'd like to wish our former student and LogicPrep Scholar, Sean, a huge congratulations on being awarded the Truman Scholarship! 

Sean is currently a political science major at Yale University. He is a Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar and a Yale Law School Liman Summer Fellow. At Yale, he serves on the board of the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project as head of men’s mentoring. Moore was homeless from age 18 to 21 and during that time, he discovered a trajectory to self-sufficiency and a deep commitment to service. Moore hopes to serve homeless and reentering populations by creating and refining programs that offer much-needed resources for success.

You may have read his story before on our website:

One student reminds us that it’s never too late to start again. He writes, “through a series of bad decisions… I moved to California where I was homeless by [age] 19. I spent three years living on couches, on the street, and in shelters.” After reconsidering his life path, this student returned to New Jersey and enrolled in community college. In his spare time, he crafted a tutoring program around the GED curriculum, and administered it at the same soup kitchen where he once ate. He was awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which recognizes resilience, commitment to service, and academic excellence with up to $30,000 per year to study at America’s best institutions. He is now an undergraduate at Yale, and plans to pursue a degree in law, “so that [he] can be of maximum service to individuals marginalized by their circumstances.” We admire his positivity, empathy, and drive in the face of the difficulties he’s faced. “In journeying through my personal suffering, I came to discover the humanity, hope, and strength with which to forge a new way of life – a life focused on academic pursuits, and a vocational calling to be of service to others.”

The LogicPrep team couldn't be more thrilled for Sean and his accomplishments! 

Read what Sean had to say about being awarded here!

Support LogicPrep's Scholars

At LogicPrep, we know how fortunate we are to have talented tutors and excellent resources to help our students succeed. That’s why we do everything in our power to give back to the community and make a positive impact. One of our most important initiatives is the LogicPrep Scholarship Program. One scholarship covers the entire test preparation and college advising process for qualified students who demonstrate financial need. This past year, we were fortunate to help two students in particular, Ariana and Andrea. Ariana will be attending Columbia and Andrea is off to MIT! However, even after scholarships and financial aid, books and supplies are expensive! To send Ariana and Andrea off, we've created this campaign to raise money for books and a computer for each of them. And LogicPrep will match your donation, dollar-for-dollar! Our goal is to raise a total of $3000, including LogicPrep's match.

Ariana
At this time last year, Ariana was overwhelmed and afraid of the upcoming college search and application process. She was referred to LogicPrep by Latino U College Access, and when we learned about her rigorous course schedule and commitment to service through Girl Scouts and other organizations, we were quickly moved to help Ariana tap into her tremendous potential. As a first generation college student, Ariana had watched her parents struggle to compete in a workforce favoring employees with a college degree. She knew that through education she would be able to change the trajectory of her life as well as her family’s.

When we first met Ariana, the Ivy League was not even in the realm of her thought. However, after a year of hard work and commitment, Ariana brought her ACT score up dramatically (more than 10 points in some sections!), and went on to achieve tremendous results on the Subject Tests. Academically, Ariana enjoys studying English Literature and Biology, and applied broadly to schools where she would be able to pursue these diverse passions. After being accepted to NYU, Cornell, Columbia, and other amazing universities, Ariana decided to attend Columbia next year. Although unsure of her intended major, Ariana looks forward to exploring various academic areas through the Core Curriculum. 

Outside of school, Ariana devotes much of her time mentoring first generation middle school students. Having been in their shoes just a few years ago, she works to inform students and their families on beneficial strategies for success in high school. She hopes to continue mentoring younger first generation students at Columbia and paying forward all that has been done for her. 

Andrea
While we typically rely on guidance counselors to refer superstars to the LogicPrep scholarship program, when this student showed up at our office and shared her transcript, Andrea's potential was immediately apparent.

When she was a seven-year-old, Andrea explained, her parents moved her family to the US seeking better opportunities for her and her sister. At the time, she spoke no English. While both her parents were teachers in Peru, coming to the US would mean starting over -- and to this day, relying on their young daughters to navigate everything from paying bills to ordering pizza. One thing that remained constant, however, was her family’s emphasis on education.

With incredible grit and the support of the LP team, this student raised her ACT score 10 points and aced the Math II and Physics Subject Tests. Inspired by her work ethic, our college advising team jumped at the opportunity to guide her through the application process. Mid-December, our office erupted into screams when Andrea called telling us she’d been offered Early Admission to her first choice school, MIT. It was a true team effort, and a dream come true for this incredibly hardworking and talented young woman.

Please consider donating to help Ariana and Andrea prepare for their bright futures!

https://www.gofundme.com/supportscholars