Is there anyone more honest with a parent than a teenage daughter? If I truly want to know if a pimple is noticeable, how my hair looks, or if the dinner I cooked is good, Ellie is my go-to. Sometimes the “helpful feedback” even comes without solicitation… Therefore, when I had Ellie take the On Your Mark masterclass in January, I braced myself for a non-sugarcoated assessment. While Ellie did-of course- have a number of suggestions, we were both pleased by what she got out of the course.
Especially over the last year, I had made suggestions for programs she should look at. Many times, her response non-committal or she dismissed the program for reasons that I don’t think should be part of her initial criteria. Having her go through the process herself and really identify herself how her interests align with specific European study areas, determine the types of educational approaches that are important to her, and figure out what her own dealbreakers and preferences are as they pertain to location, student life, and academic life was powerful!
She ended the class with a number of programs she is interested in. Some are programs that I had suggested (I tried to keep my I told you sos to myself) and other were programs that hadn’t been on my radar for her. She ended the course invested in the process, with a solid understanding of what she is looking for, and having met a group of kids who are also pursuing these options.
The community aspects is especially key. Students meet each other in our three live calls and are also part of a private instagram group that includes some of our student ambassadors (in case they have questions for current students). We had two students who took the first session of the class and ended up at the same university this fall. Knowing someone from before day one was incredibly helpful, given the circumstances students around the world were coping with this year!
We have other students who learned about us through our member Liza, who has a huge TikTok following. Because she goes to AAU, in Prague, a lot of our students come into the class thinking that’s where they will go. By completing the lessons and assignments, they find other options that are better suited to their own individual needs, qualifications, preferences, and interests.
The first week provides the foundation, with lessons pertaining to the differences between college in the US and Europe (admissions, student life, academic life, etc). Week two focuses on choosing their area of study, preferably identifying multidisciplinary types of programs that include more than one of their interest areas. Week three is all about determining the concrete criteria to use for the initial search. Week four is especially fun since it focuses on location!Students set their criteria around what is important to them in a location, to ensure that they don’t miss out on great places they’ve never heard of that do, in fact, meet their criteria. They then narrow the previous week’s program list based on their location dealbreakers. Week five narrows their list even further based on university and program specific criteria they learn how to set. Week six concludes the course with discussion of next steps, be it how to narrow their list down further, create an admissions timeline, and/or cultivate skills needed for success as an international student.