Maplewood Aspiration
September 13, 2005

Study in the USA Seminars
Teen screening - Harvard admissions tips
Berliner Philharmoniker - Beethoven and education
Cracking the new SAT code - scores you need
Peer support at its best - a meaningful summer
SAT and English workshops

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Aspiration - a Maplewood Newsletter  

September 13, 2005

In this issue:

Study in the USA - Maplewood seminars on September 20 and 24
Teen screening - admissions dean at Harvard offers insights and tips
Berliner Philharmoniker - crossing Beethoven and education
** Win $1,200 tickets to Berliner Philharmoniker November concert .... (what's this?)
Cracking the new SAT code - what scores you need
Peer support at its best - Maplewood students spent a meaningful summer
SAT and English workships, fall 2005

Read on ...

The US college and boarding school application season has started....
Learn from the experts on how to ...

Get in top US colleges and boarding schools

   Study in the USA Seminar

- Understand the US college and boarding school systems
- Know the admissions process and the right things to do
- Choose the best possible schools and build winning applications
- The latest rankings and admissions trends
- Q&A

Choose from 2 dates:

9/20/05 (Tue) 18:00-20:00, or 9/24/05 (Sat) 10:30-12:30

Each seminar will devote the first hour to boarding school admissions and the second hour to colleges and universities.

For parents and their college-bound kids.... The US college application is more complex and competitive than ever. Maplewood can help ease the strain of the whole process and help students and parents get into the college or university of your choice.

For Year 9-12 students (and their parents) in local and international schools who want to get into the best possible US colleges that match their academic goals and abilities.

For parents and their middle school kids.... The US boarding school application requires good planning and efforts from both the student and the parents. Maplewood can help you understand and tackle the complex application and get into the boarding school of your choice.

For Year 7-9 students (and their parents) in local and international schools who want to get into the best possible boarding schools to prepare them well for US colleges and universities.

Seminar EnrolmentSend in your seminar date, parent's name, student's name, contact phone nos. to:

Seminars are held at Maplewood's office in Causeway Bay:  
31/F, 88 Hing Fat Street,
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Tel 2772 8303.

Get going in your US college/boarding school apps! Act now! Seats are limited. Free admission.

For more info, please visit our website:

Feel free to distribute this seminar announcement to any interested parents and friends and ask them to enrol directly with Maplewood. 

Teen screening
- admissions dean at Harvard offers insights and tips

Stuffed squirrels, life-size statues, chocolate chip cookies, and a dozen roses are some of the items applicants have sent in to the office of William Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard College. They have attempted to leave impressions, and some of these students did get admitted.

In a most recent interview with Psychology Today, Fitzsimmons, a 23-year veteran in admissions, gave a rare, first-hand glimpse into his job and offered some good insights:

On Harvard admissions... No one knows who is in or out until the admissions officers convene to debate the merits of each application. Fitzsimmons may be king, but when his committee meets, it's one person, one vote.... Everything filters through subcommittees first and then goes to the full committee - sometimes spending an hour on a single application.... Fitzsimmons and his staff of 35 admissions officers scrutinized nearly 23,000 applications last year but sent out just 2,100 of those coveted, thick acceptance envelopes.... Roughly 80 percent of those we admit choose to come here. But the truth is, competition for the top students has never been more intense.

On vetting applications... There's no way to tell with certainty whether or not someone has received inappropriate help. We're always looking for consistency, where the teachers, the counselors and the interviewers are all really saying much the same thing. You might ask yourself why someone who writes perfectly and beautifully gets Bs and Cs in English.... It's very hard for parents who haven't been through the [college application] process to help their children. So the lack of a level playing field is a huge issue.... I think the more personal [the essay] is, the better, rather than, say, writing about the national debate topic of the year, or something that's dealt with ad nauseam on the nightly news.

On what he learned about today's teens.... It's impossible not to be optimistic about the future of the country, based on reading the applications....There are advantages and disadvantages with any kind of growing-up process. Everybody would understand some of the challenges of growing up, as I did, in the bottom quarter of income distribution. But there are also real pressures in the most affluent communities, especially given the frenetic pace today, where people start their sports and musical instruments and academic enrichment practically before preschool.... We've written a paper called "Time Out or Burn Out" about taking a gap year.... We've encouraged students to take time off before coming here. It isn't so much a criticism as it is a caution. Students need to determine what their hearts and souls are telling them, as opposed to their heads.

Read the full interview (pdf file, 509KB; type in admit to open file) from Psychology Today, Sep/Oct 2005, Vol. 38, No. 5, p.6.

Berliner Philharmoniker
- crossing Beethoven and education

Tickets go on sale at LCSD today for the world-acclaimed Berliner Philharmoniker's first ever concerts in Hong Kong! Tickets are gone real FAST! Maplewood students now have a chance to win two HK$1,200-value tickets to the first Hong Kong appearance by this sonorous yet refined, and perhaps the most celebrated orchestra in the world. The Berliner Philharmoniker will play Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat, Op. 55, "Eroica" and other pieces by Berlioz and Ravel under their Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Sir Simon Rattle at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on Sunday, November 13, 2005.

Berliner Philharmoniker Concert Mini-Essay Contest

Submit an essay in English of 200 to 400 words on Why I want to win a ticket to the Berliner Philharmoniker concert to by September 30, 2005. Send in also your full name, age, year of study, music instrument(s) you play, and school information.

All submitted essays will be adjudicated by Ms Katherine Lu of Katherine Lu Music Centre, Hong Kong, and one of our Maplewood education consultants. The essays will be judged on:

  • originality, ingenuousness, refinement in personal thoughts on music listening or concert-going
  • specificity on the orchestra or the concert program
  • essay flow, delivery, conciseness in a short space
  • use of English

All full-time students under 20, whether you are a Maplewood client or not, are eligible to enter the essay contest. The best two essays will be announced by October 21, 2005 and their authors will win the two student tickets to the concert on November 13 evening. Essays by the winners and selected finalists will also be posted on the Maplewood website. (Read contest rules.)

Maplewood has sponsored student tickets at the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2005. This Berliner Philharmoniker concert essay contest represents Maplewood's ongoing efforts to encourage students to appreciate and express their passion and feelings for their hobbies or pastimes - in this case music listening and concert-going - as an integral part of their educational and developmental experience.

Cracking the new SAT code

The test changed. Now a 1600 isn't a good score at all. So what is? And how much does the new essay count?... If I get, say, a 2170 or even a 2380, is this a good score? What is its counterpart on the old 1600-point scale? Is my score on the new writing portion of the test less important? And should I be considering taking the test again?...

Until this year, the SAT came in a neat 1600-point package, burned into the subconscious of high-school seniors and admissions officers alike. Anything above a 1500 gave you a good shot at one of the nation's best universities. Score about half that, and you should be really, really good at football.

Now that familiar scale is gone, thanks to the writing section of the test, which had its debut in March. A perfect score-now 2400-will surely still be a ticket into some top school. But farther down the scale, there's already plenty of confusion as the first students who took the new test prepare to send off their college applications for 2006-07. Many colleges, unsure how much weight to give the writing test, will muddle through the first year or two.... Even the College Board, which created the test, wants colleges to go slow.

For students figuring out where to apply, that's not so helpful. The best advice? Do your homework. When you visit schools, don't just ask whether they require the SAT writing test or the optional ACT writing test. Ask how the writing scores will be used. Will they get the same weight as math and critical reading (formerly verbal)? Or will they be treated like the old SAT writing achievement test?

Each college has its own answer. Some schools won't consider the new test at all. Some will collect the results but use them sparingly. Certain schools will compare the timed essays with those polished-perhaps Mommy-aided-essays sent with the application. Others will dive right in, using the new scores to select the class of 2010....

So what's in the new SAT after all?

The College Board added tougher math questions, axed analogies and developed the essay. The 800-point writing test includes a multiple-choice section that looks like an editing test. Students don't have to know technical grammar terms but must be able to fix bad sentences.

The essay counts for just one third of the writing score, but it's the biggest departure from the multiple-choice SAT of the past. Students get a "prompt" that lays out a topic and then asks an open-ended philosophical question. In June, for example, some students were given a paragraph explaining that many people intentionally forget their pasts to become successful, while others build their lives on personal histories. Then they were told to tackle this: "Do memories hinder or help people in their effort to learn from the past and succeed in the present?" Got that? Answer it, in 25 minutes....

How the New SAT essays are read

Nearly 1.4 million students have taken the New SAT tests in March, May and June 2005. Each essay was read, scored, and reported by two different professional readers, all high school or college teachers, under stringent requirements. Ninety-five percent of the essays were read, scored, and reported within the 16-day scoring window as expected.... (

Mindful of the various uncertainties, many colleges will make limited use of the writing test, at least until they can match incoming students' scores with their grades in freshman English.... Some schools... for now won't require the writing test at all. But many will, making it difficult for most applicants to avoid an essay....

Read article Cracking the SAT Code by Richard Rubin, Newsweek, Aug 22, 2005

Peer support at its best
- Maplewood students spent a meaningful summer

Twelve student tutors recruited by Maplewood and 25 local school students participated in the Chinglin Tutoring Program, a peer-to-peer English tutoring program in summer, 2005.

Volunteer student tutors have come from the German Swiss International School, West Island School, Diocesan Girls' School in Hong Kong and the Cheltenham Ladies' College and Queenswood School in the UK. Three times a week, three hours per session, student tutors provide conversational English and reading/writing workshops to their peers at Hon Wah Middle School, a local Chinese-medium secondary school in Hong Kong and the program's co-organizer.

Our students believe that through such meaningful community services as the Chinglin tutoring program, they can gain a deeper understanding of their community, show their concern for others, and develop better awareness and maturity in themselves. Not to mention the fact that solid, reflective community service experience is an important personal attribute that many top schools would look for in assessing their applicants. Our student tutors have also gained a good understanding on how difficult it is to be a good teacher and learned how to become a better student.

Tutors and students participating in the tutoring program held a lunch party on August 18 for all to celebrate the end of the program. Few were not touched by the heartfelt speeches and impromptu remarks by participants on their experiences as teachers and learners in the program. Students who had put in a total of 24 or more hours of tutoring were awarded Certificates of Recognition for their services.

Maplewood plans to expand the peer tutoring program in summer 2006.

Read Peer Support, a cover story from SCMP Young Post, August 29, 2005 (pdf file, 292KB).

Read essays by tutors and students on their experiences in the program.

Program chronicle and album.

Maplewood SAT and English workshops, fall 2005

Sign up now for our New SAT Workshop this fall which takes a blended learning approach combining both self-study and one-on-one personal guidance to achieve the best results. Each SAT Workshop focuses on pinpointing your current areas of weakness and improving your test scores in an 8-week period.

Designed for high school students in the Class of 2006 and beyond who are taking the New SAT test in November 2005 and after.

More on New SAT Workshop

Students enrolled in our English Workshops in the summer have enjoyed an effective and motivating way of learning English through e-Learning and individual guidance. Students work and study at their own pace with progress constantly monitored in all areas - listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary. They most enjoy the chance to talk to a real teacher online and meet fellow students from other countries. We are expanding the workshop program to cover students from age 6 to 18 in fall, 2005.

Maplewood English Workshops Fall 2005

Specially designed for:

1. Students from age 6 to 12 who study English as a second language. Build a solid English foundation for speaking, listening and writing fluency to prepare the child for future success in our English for Kids workshop.

2. Students from age 13 to 18 who study English as a second language. Improve on English listening, speaking, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. Master the language to speak in extended conversations, discuss on familiar and unfamiliar topics, problem solving in our English Head Start workshop.

For more information, email Maplewood or contact your Maplewood consultant.

About this newsletter: Aspiration is an occasional news and events announcement by Maplewood Education Services, an independent college counseling service provider and is distributed to Maplewood students and parents via email and made available on Maplewood's website.

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Copyright 2004-2006 Maplewood Education Services Ltd. This page last updated 06/26/06 13:51.