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College Talk Blog

If you have accepted your admission offer...you are not done yet. Not reading and acting on email can lead to the cancellation of your admission acceptance.

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Take the Leap!

Posted on February 26, 2020 at 3:58 PM Comments comments (14)
A pattern I keep seeing among students I know is the tendency to apply to colleges where friends are applying. That's a natural instinct at a kind of scary time in the late teens because it is becoming clear to students that they really are LEAVING HOME!!!! 

It is comforting not to be the only person taking a path. However, there are rewards for those who dare to go in different directions. 

Students should consider that colleges, in their mission to have a diverse student body, often accept a limited number of students from each high school. That means if a particular college is popular among your friends, you are competing with those students to get in. Conversely, if students at your school tend to go to just a few popular state universities and you apply somewhere else, you are likely to find it easier to get in where you are applying. 

Students can dare to be geographically diverse and/or diverse in terms of major. Consider whether there is a major that is in your range of passions and gifts but less common than what friends will study. Students can also be diverse by extra-curriculars and hobbies. Daring to be different can pay off-take the leap!

The Competitiveness Incline

Posted on February 17, 2020 at 10:43 AM Comments comments (0)
As a college consultant for over a decade, I have been waiting for the promised decline in admission competitiveness due to predicted changes in population patterns. Specifically, the prediction was that admission will become less challenging at more competitive colleges when the predicted decline in teenaged population occurs.

What researchers did not take into account is the college-going rate increase. Once upon a time, a minority of students went to college while most others took other opportunities. Now, we live in a time when most teens expect to attend college.

In addition to the increase in the college going rate, the other factors likely to keep the competition high at traditionally competitive colleges include the growth in educational opportunities in k-12 for ambitious families and the increase in private opportunities to enhance student competitiveness.

Other factors that could affect college admission patterns include political shifts that will affect who will apply and be offered admission to which colleges. For example, how would the idea of free college affect admissions at public colleges? Would forgiveness of parent student loan debt result in a change in where the children of parents with student loan debt apply? What will be the impact of an increase in students attending college outside the US? How will shifts in the job market in relation to technology affect the desire for a college education? Will the popularity and cost savings of online college opportunities at prestigious colleges reduce the desire for a residential college education? Will the movement to obtain as much as two years of college credit in high school eliminate the freshman year? One thing is for certain, change is coming to our notion of higher education.


Penny Wise But Pound Foolish

Posted on January 11, 2020 at 12:26 PM Comments comments (15)
I've always heard the cliche', "penny wise-pound foolish" and never thought much of it until the last few years. I think of it when a parent asks me if I will work "hourly" with their child. I don't do that because it does not serve the student or parents well.

Early in my educational consulting career I did work on an hourly basis. That meant that the client was deciding how many hours to work with a professional on college admissions. The problem with that was that parents did not know the process and would skip important activity with me and leave it up to their student who also did not understand the process. The results were ok, at best.

When I started operating on a plan basis which is not dependent on a number of hours but rather on a flat fee for all services, results and client satisfaction increased dramatically. I was able to spend whatever time it takes with each student and provide the services I knew each student needed. 

Fees for most independent educational consultants are a very small fraction of the cost of a four year college degree. The results are lower costs for parents and better results for students. So the figurative "penny" spent, saves many "pounds" as well as frustration and family arguments and stress.

The key to saving money in higher education is early effort, family involvement and expert help with planning and application. It also helps to seek the best fit for the student over the prestige factor which is useless if the student fails to graduate.

Transferring?

Posted on December 28, 2019 at 6:53 PM Comments comments (4)
Students who did not gain acceptance to their first choice colleges as a freshman last year sometimes contemplate trying to transfer into those colleges as a sophomore for next fall. That can be tough unless the student has taken the right courses and done well in them.

Looking at it from the standpoint of the prospective transfer school that did not offer admission to them last year, the things most likely to convince them to make an offer this year is whether the student took a normal full time load of freshman courses and did well in them. The things that will fail to impress them that the prospective transfer will be successful at the desired transfer school include dropped courses, grades below B and an overall GPA (at their current school) that is average.

The thing that always surprises me is that students with average grades at a less challenging school want to transfer to a more challenging school when they are clearly NOT READY. They likely will reach an appropriate stage of readiness with one more year at their current school, but average grades as a freshman at a school that is easier than their desired school is a warning that they need to do some more preparation before trying to compete in a more challenging setting.

'Tis the Season

Posted on December 5, 2019 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (0)
The aroma of hot chocolate, the smell of  blue spruce and anticipation of the taste of that first Christmas cookie are all pleasant thoughts of the upcoming holiday season. Another thought for some is the anticipation of college decisions on admission applications filed this fall for next year.

While the outcome of applications is foremost in the minds of seniors, they should also be gearing up for scholarship season if they have not already begun filing scholarship applications for schools to which they have applied. Most colleges award some scholarships based on applications. Additionally, sometimes there is a scholarship application to file as well. Encourage the high school seniors in your life not to miss out on scholarships to help pay for college. In addition to scholarship applications to colleges, students can apply to national and local scholarships. 'Tis the season!

You're Not Done Yet!

Posted on November 16, 2019 at 10:01 AM Comments comments (7)
The biggest challenge for high school counselors, college advising professionals and parents this time of year is helping high school seniors realize some very important facts:

  • they need to follow up on college admission applications to make sure that their earlier requests for transcripts, test scores and recommendations have arrived at intended colleges
  • they need to stay enrolled in senior courses and do their best to have the best chances of admission and to be ready for college work next fall
  • they need to set up portals offered by their colleges to monitor application progress and decisions
  • they need to determine required honors college and scholarship application processes and deadlines
  • they need to officially visit any colleges they applied to but neglected to see first hand

The rumors that senior courses and grades don't matter as well as the psychological desire to be done with the process can sideline a college acceptance. Missing deadlines and not following instructions can cost students big in terms of both acceptance opportunities as well as scholarships. For that reason, parents, in particular, need to stay on top of students about reading their email and responding to important messages and requests in a timely manner. It is largely the parent who will pay the price of student inattention in this process in terms of higher tuition. The student may also pay the price of higher student loan debt levels later for not paying attention now.

Parent Oversight in the College Process

Posted on September 24, 2019 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)
You would not abandon your teenager to choose and purchase a car-right? There are consumer, safety, quality and cost issues to oversee. Imagine what could happen if you turned your teen loose on a car lot with no supervision, direction or guidelines to purchase an item that could cost $30,000 or more?

My question to parents is: If you would not let your child drive a lemon-why would you let your child attend one? For this discussion, a lemon is a car or a college that is not a good fit, over-budget and may not deliver what is needed.

While many teens have great judgement and organization skills, just as many are in a situation where their executive function has not fully kicked in. This means they might not consider all of the variables before making a decision and the decision may be less based on logic than you like. As parents, provide parameters in geography, cost, safety and other variables to provide a framework for college choice and selection. Unchecked, students can choose colleges from which they will never graduate and/or for which they will incur more debt than is reasonable.

Don't lose skills this summer!

Posted on July 18, 2019 at 12:39 PM Comments comments (100)
Don't let the student in your family backslide this summer. Any reading comprehension, vocabulary skills, reading speed and writing skills they lose this summer will be an anchor around their academic achievement in the fall. This applies to students at all levels of education.

Students lose skills in the summer if they do not continue to read. Many students who have required summer reading wait until the end of summer to do it. That strategy keeps them from getting the most out of what they read if the have not been reading all summer. Students who have required summer reading should space it out over the summer instead of doing all at once the week before school starts. 

Parents who enable reading are making an investment in their child that can pay off later in college acceptances and scholarships. Encourage students in your family to read for pleasure all year. Made sure they make good use of a public library, bookstore or electronic reader in the summer. If they are reading at their grade level, they will continue to grow their vocabulary, spelling skill and writing skill as well as their reading speed and comprehension.

North Carolina Public College Decision Rocks!

Posted on July 6, 2019 at 11:26 AM Comments comments (19)
Sometimes the AP policies of colleges are confusing to students who wonder (when they get their AP test scores) if their score will result in college credit? Their parents wonder if their AP test scores will result in saving money and help their child graduate on time or even early.

Kudos to the North Carolina college system for standardizing their accepted score for college credit from AP exams! Now a score of 3 will result in credit at any North Carolina system college. As students decide where to apply this fall, they might take a look at their AP scores to see just how far ahead they will be at the colleges they are considering. There may be a dramatic difference that could save their families thousands.

Don't let your rising senior hurt his college admission chances

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 4:43 PM Comments comments (1)
Two temptations for rising seniors include taking a holiday from learning and taking a light academic load during senior year. Both of these temptations should be avoided. 

Students should stay in practice reading and writing in the summer to avoid losing skills prior to the next school year. It matters less what they read and write than that they do it regularly to retain their skill level. 

The academic load during senior year is the other error students sometimes make. They reason that colleges will make decisions on junior year grades and performance. But colleges can check grades and enrollment level during senior year and what the student is doing should match what they reported on college applications or they have hurt their own admission chances. College admission officers have reported that students who take a light load of less challenging courses as seniors are not as ready for their freshman year of college as others who continued to challenge themselves academically. Word to the wise: senior year of high school is not a victory lap.

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