Jo & Elliott's Huge Adventure

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cinammon Vanilla French Toast

This recipe is hugely popular. So much so that I am not sure where it originated so I am giving the credit to Mendez Manor.


6 slices of thick bread
5 eggs
2 tablespoons milk (I use 2%)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup powder sugar (optional)

Soak each piece of bread in the egg batter and place onto the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip over and cook the other side.

To serve I like to cut each slice into triangles and layer them on a square plate. I always
Beat eggs into a medium size bowl. Add milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix together. The cinnamon will clump slightly and that is okay.

On the stove, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and coat bottom of a large non-stick skillet.
finish it by off by using a sifter to sprinkle a little powder sugar on top. It looks pretty and compliments the cinnamon. This recipe serves 3 - 6 people.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Guide to Acing a College Interview:No Jokers Needed

This was written many years ago. I am not going to update it because I think "it is what it is." I hope you find it helpful.

My qualifications for writing this:

I am a college graduate.
I have three children who graduated from college.
My husband has been a college professor for well over 20 years. (now 30)

The best way to prepare for a college interview is to do well in high school. That does not mean that if you are a C student you will not get into college. It may mean you will not get into a top tier college but you may not want that anyway.

~Get active in or outside your high school. Join the drama club, a team, do volunteer work but realize that too many activities are as bad as none. If your high school doesn't offer a sport you like look at what your town offers. Where you get involved does not matter as long as you are. Having said that college admissions officers wonder how you could do well in high school and have time for so many extra curricula activities. They will start questioning the hows and whys and you do not want that during an interview. You are already on the defensive; do not put yourself into a more defensive posture by letting those questions in by overextending yourself.

~You will be asked why you want to go to that particular college. Do your homework. Know the college as well as you can. Know how many students attend; know the faculty to student ratio (If it is good that is a great reason to go to that college.); know the departments that are their strong suits. If you want to be an engineer and they are known for their excellent journalism department you may have a hard time convincing them as to why you are choosing their college. If the school has well known professors in the department you are looking at, tell them that. They know you are interviewing elsewhere so be creative. Admissions officers, who are professionals and always hold at least a college degree, have heard it all. They know "the lines" so try not to repeat what they have heard. Be honest with them. "I want to go to Boston University because it has a fantastic Social Work department. I have read Professor Delgado's books and would love to have him as a Professor. Although I know many of the first year classes are quite large and taught by teaching assistants, I do fine in that type of setting. I welcome being taught in smaller groups by a teaching assistant who has not been out of school that long herself. I love being in the city and would thrive here. That will go over better than "Boston University is my number one choice. I have just always wanted to go here." If in fact a school is your number one choice then that is fine to tell them.

~You will be asked what you are looking for in a college. For example you might be asked if you want to join a sorority or fraternity - you should be prepared for a no answer if they have none! You may be asked if you will live on campus - will you?

~You will be asked what you think your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. This is not the time to be modest however in my opinion honesty is always the best policy. Truly if you get into a school by any kind of deception and get accepted there is a good chance the school will be over your head. So build up your strengths within reason. If you were the President of the debate team, make sure they know that. If you were a member of the debate team do not tell them you were the President. They can easily check that out. Not only will it ruin your chances for getting into this college but it will ruin your chances for getting into others. Admissions officers talk to one another. A good friend of mine is one. Remember that what you say perhaps is being written down. These words, if not true, may come back to haunt you.

~Everyone has weaknesses; do not be afraid to share them. If you come across as someone without any weaknesses you will be viewed a phony. Perhaps your weakness is as simple is that you take on too much; you cannot say no to a friend; you stay up too late studying and have a hard time getting up in the morning. As Dr. Phil and Oprah say, "Be your authentic self."

~Go prepared with questions. When asked if you have any and you will be asked that, ask! Everyone has questions. Certainly not everything was covered in the interview. You know the school well but you certainly cannot know everything about the school. Maybe they have a blue light system for security. You know that but do you know how it works? Ask! You know the faculty student ratio but do you know how many teaching assistants teach classes or how large the classes are? Ask!

~Ask what they see as their strengths and weaknesses. One of my daughters is in medical school. She asked a medical school during an interview what he thought the school's weakness was. The answer was lack of money. She got into that school.

~In turn ask what they consider their strengths to be. Do not get bogged down with daily life such as campus food or dorms. You need the bigger picture asked and answered and they want the bigger picture from you. They are not going to ask you what you ate for breakfast but they may very well catch you off guard and ask you if you feel a nutritious diet helps people learn!

~The interviewer has already looked at your file. He or she has read your all important essay and it is. Write that essay like you have never written anything before. Do not under any circumstances have anyone else write it. You can certainly have someone proofread it; give you ideas and suggestions but you must own your essay or you will not only not ace the interview you will flunk it. You may very well be asked about your essay. If you do not know it inside out because you wrote it you can write off that college. One essay I remember my daughter was asked to write wanted page 284 of her autobiography. Great question isn't it?

~This is a good time to buy new clothes. You really do want to look nice. Nice is subjective so I will give you an example. My younger daughter took out her eyebrow ring for college interviews. While in college she got a tongue ring which came out for medical school interviews. The tongue is pierced again and I can guarantee that it will come out for Residency interviews.

~Bring not just a notebook but a nice binder. You do not have to spend a lot of money and it does not have to be leather. A binder will allow you to keep a pen in it so you do not have to hold it and perhaps fiddle with it when not writing. It will also give you a place to put any information you may have picked up while waiting or that the admissions officer gives you.

~My friend, the admissions officer, knew that my daughter was applying to Emory University. It is a highly ranked school and my younger daughter was not an A student. My friend told her that Emory likes to know your name. They want you to be visible to them. She suggested inundating them with her name. So my daughter did. She asked for the video that was available; she signed up for the talk when Emory came to her high school. She visited and called. She got in. Find out what the college wants from you. Some have an optional interview. Buy all means go on that interview.

~I have no problem with manipulating the system in an honest way. I do not see that as dishonest. I see it as resourceful. For example my younger daughter never seemed to be one who would want to be a Big Sister. She knew it would look good on her med school applications so she become one and ended up enjoying it and being a better person for it. My children refuse to lie. When asked why she became a Big Sister rather than saying that she loves to help the community and children who do not have as much as she her answer was that it was an experience she never had. It was an experience that enriched her and that she is still in touch with her little sister, which she is. This is not a lie. It may be a bit evasive, but certainly the truth.

~Be yourself; act as comfortable and self assured as you possibly can considering how nervous you might be; smile; laugh if appropriate and make a connection with the interviewer. My daughter was convinced that she got into one college because the interviewer was as much of a Red Sox fan as she and they spent a lot of time talking baseball! There is nothing wrong with that. Talking is one of the best ways an interviewer is going to get to know you. What the subject matter is means less (Unless you are talking scores or essays.) than how you present yourself an communicate during a conversation.

~I feel very strongly about being yourself and answering a question honestly during the interview. My daughter's GPA was not as high as others who did not get any med school interviews (she got 7); her MCAT scores (Medical College Admission Test) scores were not as high as others, but her essay was fantastic and the overall package is what they want to see. Friends with better grades, etc. did not get any interviews and many did not get accepted to med school. Why did she? I truly believe that she presented her true self. She made her case that she has wanted to be a doctor since she was five years old and she made her case as to why she wanted to go to whatever school she was interviewing at in a truthful way. I think that is the best policy. I think this is the way you will ace that college interview.

~People who cheat and do not tell the truth get caught. I do not think cheating is the way to go even if you will never get caught. My husband spent 2 year of our lives dealing with cheaters - one of whom was 3 months away from graduating. He not only did not graduate but he could not come back to this college for 3 years. He did community service and speaking at the college about cheating. When he took the exam from the copy room he never thought he would get caught I am sure. He probably was not thinking at all.
You do not want to be in that position. Think before you speak. Make notes of what you will say to potential questions asked. Write down the questions you will ask so you won't sit there and say "well, umm..."

My final words:

Being accepted at a college is really a toss of the dice. If your number one choice has enough males from your town you will not get in. The same package from another part of the country will. I read an article from an admissions officer at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She said that she could have two applications in front of her. One is slightly stronger. As she ponders these two the phone rings. It is the music department telling her they need an oboe player. The weaker of the two applicants plays the oboe. She gets in.
© Jo Levy