Even with excellent test scores and high class rankings, many prospective college students still have a lot of work to do when it comes to college essays, resumes and interviews, according to two UT Dallas communication instructors.
That need for better student communication skills in the admissions process is why the two will hold a college preparation camp this summer.
“We’re covering some of the most stressful parts of the college application process — the essay and the interview — while providing some other important information for students hoping to be accepted into their targeted universities,” said Dr. Melissa Hernandez-Katz, senior lecturer in communication in the School of Arts and Humanities.
Developed for rising high school juniors and seniors, the camp will be held the week of July 30.
While some research studies indicate that the college admissions process can be very stressful for high school students, Ingrid London BS’07, MS’16, director of freshman admissions, said UT Dallas tries to make the process as streamlined as possible.
“It can involve a lot of information and a number of deadlines, but our goal is to make the application process as smooth as possible for prospective UT Dallas students,” London said.
University admission requirements vary a great deal across the country. UT Dallas, for instance, does not require essays or interviews for admissions, but they may be required for scholarship applications. Other universities also may require interviews and essays for scholarships or admissions.
London said communication skills are important for prospective students and are considered in UT Dallas’ holistic application process.
In addition to essay and interview preparation, the summer camp will look at other factors that could influence admissions counselors, such as social media and life balance.
Hernandez-Katz said social communication use makes it more difficult for some students to switch to a more formal approach when necessary.
“Students text a lot, and they often become very relaxed in their texts. Sometimes that comes across in their emails so that when they’re emailing an admissions director, or a person in charge of awarding a scholarship, they can be too informal,” she said.
King said colleges want to know about student activities and motivations.
“They want to know how you’re going to be able to balance the challenges of the academic world with being healthy, taking care of yourself, socializing and creating lasting relationships — part of the whole college experience,” King said.
Hernandez-Katz and King will provide two three-hour sessions each day during the camp. Interested students or parents can register online.
For 80-year-old Suzanne Stricker, a hobby of taking college classes soon will turn into a UT Dallas bachelor’s degree. And, even then, she will not be stopping her path of lifelong learning.
Stricker plans to participate in commencement ceremonies for the School of Arts and Humanities on Friday, May 11, as she earns her degree in visual and performing arts.
“I’m excited about it. And my family is proud of me,” she said.
Born in New Zealand, Stricker speaks with a slight accent, which was much stronger when she moved to Texas in 1967.
“Because I felt that people were having a hard time understanding me, I practiced rolling my R’s,” she said.
Stricker stayed at home as she raised her family. But when the last of her three children began high school, she saw it as an opportunity to begin taking classes: first at a community college and then, after she worked for a local nonprofit organization, at UT Dallas in 2006.
Because she enjoyed music and played the piano, Stricker chose an academic path that focused on the humanities. Her classes included history, geography, communication and, of course, music.
“She came into my classes probably over age 70, yet she was one of the most energetic and enthusiastic members of the class,” said Dr. Kathryn Evans, senior lecturer and director of the UT Dallas Chamber Singers.
As a member of the Chamber Singers, Stricker participated in “The Best of Broadway,” a traditional University show that involves singing, costumes and movement. But none of that proved to be an issue.
“I appreciated that they would let me be in it because I was so much older than everybody else,” she said.
Evans said Stricker kept up well.
“She’d get up there and do the steps, and do her best, and she would say she was a little bit older, but it didn’t even slow her down,” Evans said.
For Stricker, one of the major attractions to enrolling at UT Dallas was the special state of Texas tuition waiver for individuals 65 years old and older. The waiver allows senior citizens to take up to six hours each semester with no tuition costs, as long as a minimum GPA is maintained.
“That means I don’t have to pay for classes,” she said. “It was something I could take advantage of so that I could continue my studies. And since I’m retired and have good health, thank the Lord, I can do things like this that I enjoy.”
Stricker said she has enjoyed her time at UT Dallas, and especially appreciated her “excellent” instructors and the diverse student body.
“You’re getting to know others of different persuasions, and what they can do. It’s such a diverse community at UTD,” she said.
Evans said Stricker is a great role model and inspiration for students, as well as for Evans herself.
“She was a very wonderful student and, in some ways, I think she inspired me to go back to school,” Evans said. “Suzanne is a great example of lifelong learning.”
Stricker said she hopes to continue taking classes at UT Dallas, perhaps working toward a master’s degree.
“I believe it’s good for your mind to be able to keep learning,” she said.