College and Career Center News
Class of 2022 -- another article about transitioning to college. Great tips. It is on the Forbes website and there are lots of ads, but if you can get through that, there is some great information here!
Class of 2022-- here is a great article on what to do this summer to be prepared for college this fall:
There was an interesting article recently about preparing students for college stressors both academically and emotionally.
Another amazing blog post from Georgia Tech -- check it out!
Have you ever had one of those moments when you see someone in a totally different way, or realize something that has been right in front of you for years?
In my life, a few of these include- noticing the clock on the iPhone has a second hand, seeing both a duck and a rabbit in this picture, and well... my wife—it only took me seven years of friendship to recognize she was “the one.”
Watching the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Basketball Tournament this month I was embarrassed to realize that in almost seven years of writing this blog, I’ve never recognized the many parallels between The Big Dance and selective college admission.
GPA/Winning Percentage: In both the men’s and women’s tournaments, 68 of the over 350 Division 1 teams are chosen to participate. “The committee” evaluates and selects teams based on win-loss record, strength of schedule, i.e., rigor of competition, as well as a variety of other statistics. Like holistic admission review there is no predetermined formula for making at-large “bids” and awarding a slot.
In other words, your high school grades, like a team’s season record, matter. However, each year many teams with the same (or even better records) are not invited to the tourney, just as some students with the same, or even higher GPAs may not be admitted. On the men’s side this year, a good example is the University of Michigan (17-14, 56% winning percentage) receiving a #11 seed, while University of Florida (19-13 59% winning percentage) is left out entirely. While many people will call, email, or show up in person to argue that a 3.8 or 4.7 should have "been good enough" to "make it," the bottom line in a selective process, is colleges (like the selection committee) don’t put GPAs into a spreadsheet, plug in a formula, and make offers of admission.
Rigor of Curriculum/Strength of Schedule
Listen to any admission representative from a selective college articulate what they are looking for academically, and they will inevitably talk far more about the rigor of your course choice than your actual GPA. When a reader opens your application, the first question is, “Where does this student go to school?” Their goal, as they read your school profile and understand your curriculum, is to understand what courses you could have taken versus what you chose to take. Ultimately, the selection committee wants to bring teams to the tournament who have been challenged and are prepared to play at the highest level. With college admission—same, same.
Some spots are held
Yes. There are 68 spots available each year in the tournament. But... not exactly. 32 Conference Champions are automatically included, leaving 36 “at-large.” The same is true for colleges.
- At Georgia Tech, for instance, 60% of our class comes from Georgia, even though only 17% of applicants are from the state.
- Schools account for the number of recruited athletes who will be part of their class.
- Some colleges have special programs for artists or other specific talents-- and the overall applicant pool is simply not going to be considered in the same manner for those positions.
- If young Candler Woodruff (whose actual blood type is Coca Cola) applies to any Atlanta college, you can believe that spot is taken. Same for Leland Stanford VII applying to The Farm in Palo Alto. Two years ago, much ado (yes, I largely wrote this blog to use that phrase) was made about Gap Year students “taking spots.”
- At Georgia Tech, we guarantee admission to valedictorians and salutations of in-state high schools. Go ahead and lump all of these examples into “conference champions” or held spots or a reduced class size.
Call it what you want. Colleges like the NCAA Tournament are going to create a diverse mix, but they do not go about this in a completely uniform (no pun intended) way. Fair? Perhaps not. But this is the Big Dance, friends. It exists for a purpose. It has a mission—and like colleges, it is a business. Not a conference champ? Get over it and play.
The Waitlist... aka Play-In Games
This year, in the NCAA Women’s tournament, Dayton, Howard, Missouri State, and Longwood all advanced to the first round, after having to win their play-in games. Each of them could have made an argument for why they should have received a higher seed, and another 20 teams could have contested they deserved the play-in slot. The parallels continue between holistic admission and the NCAA Tournament.
If you are currently on a waitlist, you have a decision to make. You can opt- out, cancel your application, deposit at another school, buy the t-shirt, and get ready to lace 'em up for that college in the fall. That’s not a bad or wrong decision, as long as you are fully committed to it.
Or you can claim your spot on the waitlist (we have covered this before, friends). You are not just on the list typically, so read your email closely- and do what it says. While there is no guarantee you will “advance” (see Florida State, Incarnate Word, DePaul, Mount St. Mary’s), the magic of March Madness starts on the opening tip of the first play-in game... but you have to show up to shoot your shot. In other words, if a college you really want to attend offers you spot on the waitlist, don’t let your ego or criticism of the committee selection process hold you back.
Make the most of your opportunity
The pandemic has shown a bright light on the power of deciding how we show up each day. Regardless of the circumstances around us, we put our feet on the floor in the morning and make a choice about our attitude, our investment, and our goals. You may not have been admitted to your “first choice,” or you may receive a financial aid package that makes your “dream school” financially unaffordable.
If this is the case, I’d invoke the now holy name of St. Peter’s, who became the first #15 seed in NCAA Men’s Tournament history to advance to the Elite 8. Along the way they knocked off #2 Kentucky, #7 Murray State, and #3 Purdue along the way. Some will call them a “Cinderella.” I say they made the most of the opportunity they were given.
If you are a senior, it’s my sincere hope that in the weeks and months ahead, as you receive admission decisions and weigh your college options, you won’t concern yourself with the committee selection process, or what someone else “got” that you feel you deserved. Instead, embrace the opportunities you have been afforded. Lace ‘em up, keep your eyes forward not backward, and head into the fall ready to embrace your “One Shining Moment!”
Wondering about all the summer programs out there? Here is a great piece written about how to think about summer enrichment programs.
Many of our students at all levels of their college search are worried most about choosing a major. Here is some great information about how to think about things that you enjoy that could help you choose a major.
Another amazing, honest, and helpful blog post from our friends at Georgia Tech:
I am getting older. I know this because I now bring a mini-massage gun with me when I travel; my pant legs neither tightly hug my calves nor end an inch above my ankle; and when I buy wine at the grocery store the cashier either does not card me or goes back to scanning items when I confidently reach for my wallet (plus, hey, I’m regularly buying wine at the grocery store).
I'm not sure if you are also experiencing this, but my kids are getting older too, as are their parents. So, with each passing year, I’m getting more texts, emails, and calls from friends about college and college admission, and over-hearing both discussed frequently at games or other events.
While I did write an entire book on this subject, I feel like I owe my friends more than simply texting them an Amazon link. Plus, I understand not everyone is up for reading 200+ pages. But after watching this cycle repeat itself for over two decades (use of “decades” being another "getting older" give-away), I’m convinced there are a few messages most parents of high school students need to hear-and hopefully will listen to also.
Pronouns Matter. As your kids enter and move through high school, and especially as they are applying to college, I hope you will be cognizant of your pronouns. If you find yourself commonly saying things like, "We have a 3.8,"Pre-Calc is really killing us this year," or "Our first choice is ___________," it may be time to take a long walk, a deep breath, or a stiff drink. Ask yourself if those pronouns are just a reflection of your love and years of intimately intertwined lives, or if they are a subtle prodding to step back and let your student demonstrate what you know they are capable of handling.
As you well know, parenting is a delicate dance that becomes increasingly complicated as kids get older. Be honest with yourself and pay attention to when its time to take the lead or step back. Interestingly, it was current Atlanta Mayor (and former Georgia Tech staff member) Andre Dickens who introduced me to the concept of moving from parent to partner with presentation he used to do at new student-parent orientation. And that should be your focus as your kids move closer toward graduation from high school.
As a parent, I understand this is not easy. But don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal. "College Prep" is not simply about academics, and we should be focused on ensuring our kids are socially, emotionally, and practically prepared, regardless of where they end up going to college. Watching your pronouns is a great place to start.
College admission is not fair. However, in contrast to what most people think, it is easy to understand. Admission is driven by two fundamental rules:
- Supply and demand. The Applicant to Class Size ratio drives admit rate. If applications go up and enrollment does not, the admit rate drops.
This is why you hear about Younger Sibling not getting into University of X (Home of the Fighting X's) with the same, or even better high school grades and classes, than Older Sibling (a current junior at X with a 3.4 GPA). Three years have passed, U of X’s new first-year class size is the same, but this year they receive 5000 more applications than the year Older applied. Could Younger do the work? 100%. Is Younger talented, ambitious, and very interested in going to University of X? Without question. Is this fair? Nope, but it is logical.
- Mission drives admission. As we just established, Older is a good student and a good person (3.4 GPA in college and very active on campus). But three years ago, when she applied as a high school senior, there was another candidate vying for admission—Applaquint. “App” had better grades, better classes, better writing, and more community involvement (all the things U of X says it values) than Older. App, however, was denied.
Why? Well, it happens that App is from Y (the state just to the east of X). Because University of X is a public school, students from the state are admitted at 5 times (would have been too confusing to say 5x) the rate of non-Xers. Fair? No! Again, App is smarter, nicer, and better looking than Older. But again, totally logical.
College brochures may make all campuses look the same, but the goals for the composition of their classes vary widely in number, geography, major, gender, and so on. So when admission committees discuss candidates, they are reviewing and considering GPA, essays, and letters of recommendation, but ultimately institutional mission and priorities are the lens and filter through which admission decisions are made.
As a parent, my sincere hope is you hear, believe, and prepare yourself for this truth- neither an admit nor deny decision is a value judgment or evaluation of your job as a parent. My friend Pam Ambler from Pace Academy puts it perfectly: "Admission decisions feel deeply personal, but that is not how they are made." As a result, many parents react when their student receives disappointing admission news. They see that hurt and think they need to call the admission office (or the president or the governor), appeal the decision, “come down there,” or pull strings. After watching this cycle repeat itself over and over, and particularly as my own kids grow up, I’ve come to appreciate ALL of that comes from a place of deep and genuine love. But ultimately, in these moments what kids need from you is very simple—love, concern, empathy, belief, and encouragement, or sometimes just a heartfelt hug.
College Parents > HS Parents. When your kids were little and you were struggling with potty training or getting your baby to sleep through the night, did you seek advice and insight from other parents in the same chapter? No! Because they were either a: just as clueless or frustrated as you were b: maddeningly oblivious c: prone to lie, exaggerate, or hide the reality of their situation.
The same is true when it comes to college admission. Other parents with kids in high school often have just enough information to sound informed but frequently serve to proliferate inaccuracy and consternation-- “You know the valedictorian three years ago did not get into….” and “It's easier to get in from (insert high school three miles away), because they don’t have IB like we do.” Generous generalizations and liberal rounding phrases like, “he has mostly As and Bs” or her SAT is “around a 1400" should send your BS radar way up in cases like this. Walk away, my friends. Dismiss, change the subject, and don't let those comments stress you out.
The bottom line is parents of high school students should talk to fewer parents of high school students about college admission, and more parents of current college students, or recent college graduates. These folks, who are one chapter ahead, invariably provide perspective, levity, insight, and sanity. They are far less prone to exaggeration, and in fact often incredibly raw and honest in their evaluation. “She was crushed when she did not get into Stanvard. But now she’s at Reese’s U and is not sorry.” Or “We didn’t get the financial aid package we needed for him to go to Enidreppep University, so he ended up at QSU. He graduates this spring and already has a great job lined up with the company where he’s been interning.” Again, seek perspective, levity, insight, and sanity from parents of current college students, and spend your time talking to parents of other high school students about the upcoming game or recently opened restaurant in your area.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. And stay tuned for upcoming podcasts and blogs with a few more key messages for high school parents coming soon...
Here is an article that could be really helpful to our juniors and their parents about building the college list together. Take a look:
Another great blog post from Georgia Tech:
Earlier this week my son played in a middle school basketball game. With two seconds left, he lined up to shoot free throws. He walked to the line, bounced the ball slowly several times, eyed his shot and released. Rattling from the front of the rim to the back, the ball ultimately glanced off the left side of the basket and out.
“AJ! Just take a breath. Relax and take your time,” I heard his coach yell as the opposing crowed waved their hands and pounded on the bleachers.
Perhaps it was just because he’s my son, but I could literally see the air go in and out of his chest as he tried to follow his coach’s instructions. He spun the ball around between his hands and shot…And again the ball caromed off the rim. Before anyone could rebound, the buzzer sounded. Game over.
After the team huddled for a post-game talk, the coach held my son back and put his arm around him. I couldn’t hear his words, but it was clear he was consoling and encouraging. Walking to the car, I decided not to say anything. We drove home in silence for the first ten minutes. Finally, I asked him directly, “What did coach have to say?”
He told me he understands how I feel, and that I will get another chance this season, so keep practicing and keep my head up.
In the weeks and months ahead, thousands of high school seniors will be receiving admission decisions, and even though they were delivered in a completely different setting, I felt like coach’s words are helpful, applicable, and worth repeating.
If you are deferred admission –Wrote about this last December, so you can read more here, but I hope you will not look back over what you could have done differently. Don’t spend time questioning if you should have written on a different essay topic or had someone else write you a letter of recommendation. Look forward not backward. You will get another chance this season. Finish this semester strong, send in your fall grades, and complete any forms or other requirements the school requests.
A defer is not a deny. Instead, it’s a hold on—a timeout to continue the basketball analogy. The game is not over, so don’t act like it is. As an example, 20% of Tech’s current first-year students were either deferred or waitlisted last year. Too many deferred students receive this news as a No, and they take their proverbial ball and go home. You did not apply for this round, but rather for next year. Be patient. Take a breath. Regroup. Shoot your next shot.
If you are denied admission -- I understand how you feel. Not just saying that either, so read this blog and the links within it for some hope, vision, and encouragement. Ok. You did not get in. This particular game is over and the buzzer has sounded. BUT you are talented. You are capable. You have tons of potential and promise. Keep practicing by rounding out your fall semester well and keep your head up!
It’s likely you’ve already been admitted to other colleges, or you soon will be. Maybe you need to spend time this holiday season working on a few more college applications. I understand you wish those free throws would have swished cleanly through the net, rather than rattled around the rim and out, but the long game is far from over. Keep your head up! If you do that, you will see plenty of people in the crowd cheering for you--- family, friends, teachers, counselors, and others in your community who know you, love you, and believe in you. Focus on their words of affirmation, rather than the ones on a screen, a letter, or in your head right now.
If you are supporting a student receiving difficult news— Parents and other adults around students who are disappointed or hurting think they need to call the admission office (or the president or the governor), appeal the decision, “come down there,” or pull strings.
After twenty years of watching this cycle repeat itself, and particularly as my own kids grow up, I’ve come to appreciate ALL of that comes from a place of deep and genuine love. But ultimately, I think in these moments what kids (all of us, actually) need is very simple—and my son’s coach modeled this well—love, concern, empathy, belief, and encouragement. And hey, if the words aren't coming, a heartfelt hug might be best anyway. You got this, coach!
As early admission decisions begin to drop in the next couple of weeks. Take a look at this article.
Trying to understand the application deadline options and what might make sense for you, take a look at this article:
Another amazing blog post from our friends at Georgia Tech for anyone looking for a college home.
On Sunday after lunch, I was watching college football highlights, when the back-and-forth battle in Happy Valley between the University of Illinois and Penn State came on. At the time, my 10-year-old daughter was stretching on the living room floor next to me (something I often see but rarely participate in).
With her head literally touching the ground next to her foot, she asked, “Penn State? Is that a good school?”
Without hesitation- “Yes.”
Now standing with foot pulled behind her and toward her shoulder, “How about the University of Ilinois?”
Over the next 15 minutes, we saw about six games recapped. Private colleges, land-grant public schools, military academies, and teams covering every geographic region of the country. Each time the announcer moved on to a new game’s highlights, Elizabeth, after a few questions about mascots or comments on helmets, would ask the same question, “Is that a good school?” And each time (including one where my wife scrunched her nose and tightly closed her left eye), I’d respond definitively, “Yes!” Ole Miss? Brown? University of New Mexico? Gonzaga?
Yes is both accurate and appropriate to tell a double-jointed, 10-year-old who is too busy touching the bottom of her foot to the back of her head (what?!) to listen much beyond that anyway... but it is not a satisfactory or complete answer for you!
Is that a good school?
Whether you are a parent, counselor, high school student, or an adult supporting a student, this is likely a question you’ve either heard or asked recently.
While the question is simple, it is no longer acceptable to settle for simple answers (or make telling facial expressions) like “No,” “Yes,” “It’s ok,” “It didn’t used to be,” or “it is ranked X (variable not Roman numeral 10),” because doing so absolutely ruins the opportunity to learn, research, grow, continue the conversation, and promote exploration.
Instead, the answer to, “Is that a good school?” is not an answer at all, but instead an invitation to ask many questions in return.
Adult Warning: Asking a high school student, particularly one who is hungry, to pause, reflect, and ask some deep and weighty questions may initially be met with grimaces, grunts, or departures from the room.
Student Warning: Not accepting one-word summaries of colleges or reducing schools to numerical rankings or admit rates will lead to a deeper understanding of yourself. Small print: People bold and thoughtful enough to take this route have experienced clarification of their goals, an underscoring of their values, and an enhanced sense of control, excitement, and purpose. Do not take this path if you are more concerned with the opinions of others than your authentic self, are scared to diverge from the status quo.
Is it good school... for you?
Adding these two words changes everything. First, it invites the ever-important question, “Why do you want to go to college?” Too few students take the time to actually consider and write down at least a two-sentence answer to this question, but it is imperative to do so. Don’t skip this step. Crawl before you walk. Here are a few prompts to get you started.
- Who do I hope to meet, connect with, and learn from in college?
- What opportunities do I want this experience to provide in the future?
- What type of people and learning environments bring out my best?
- What do you want the time and space to do, discuss, explore?
Defining why, and making decisions to surround it will quickly lead to other big questions, but let’s take it slowly.
Once you have your why written, revised, and clear, take some time to list the aspects of a college that are necessities, desires, and bonuses, or as you can see in the grid below, your: needs, wants, and would- be- nices.
||Would be Nice
Is that a good school... for ME?
Do you want to be able to get home quickly to celebrate holidays and birthdays, or access health care and other services?
Do you know you would flourish by going to college with a few people you know from home? And conversely, when you are honest, do you know the best thing to do is break away from certain people or the image/reputation you have had in high school?
Are you going to have to take loans beyond what you and your family are comfortable with?
Asking the question this way, and checking it through your filters of WHY, as well as your Needs, Wants, Would-Be-Nices grid provides a valuable litmus test. And this is not just valuable for considering where you might visit or apply, but it will be essential to re-visit once you have been admitted and are weighing your options as a senior in the spring.
Well, I see you listed “cold weather” and “mountains” in your want column. That place is known for heat and humidity, and most folks would not define 806 feet above sea level as a “mountain.” So, are those aspects really wants or are they needs?
Is that a good school for me? You listed small, discussion-based classes as important. Let’s research if that is the norm there, specifically in the majors you are considering.
Adding two additional words helps get past rankings. If you are someone who struggles with Seasonal Affect Disorder and would not be emotionally or mentally healthy when it gets dark around 4 p.m. for several months, then regardless of the world-class faculty, impressive list of alumni, and the fact that you look good in their colors, the clear answer is NO- that school is not good for you.
Is that a GOOD school?
I find it surprising and disconcerting that on average people talk about restaurants with more nuance than they do colleges.
“Is that a good restaurant?” is almost never met with a simple Yes/No. Instead, people are far more apt to make statements like, “Well, their pizza is great, but I am not a big fan of their burgers.” OR “If you are in a hurry and don’t want to spend much, it’s a good spot. But don’t expect a five-course experience.” OR “It didn’t used to be, but they’re under new management now and things have changed.” I’m sure you can add a few others to this list. “Good” for certain things. “Good” at a certain price. “Good” depending on what you are looking for.
As an aspiring college student, you should start acting like one when you seek to answer this question.
Research: Check out the programs certain colleges are known for, rather than simply their overall ranking or historical stereotype.
Explore: Look into the faculty who are teaching in the majors you are interested in studying. What are they curious about and researching currently? What have they published, and which companies/board/organizations do they consult with or advise?
Run the Numbers: Plug in your family’s financial data to an online calculator to understand likely costs and gauge affordability. What is the likelihood you would need to take loans to attend a particular college? Check out their financial aid site to understand how students off-set costs, juggle jobs and school, and so on.
Network: Who has graduated from that institution and what are they doing now? Don’t just Google famous alumni, but also read their online alumni magazine and look at profiles and the opportunities graduates are receiving.
Value Your Values: Read their mission and vision statement or even their strategic plan (executive summary is fine). Does it resonate? Does what you fine align with who you are and what you want to be a part of? Ultimately, Do YOU CARE?
Culture Check: Read the online student newspaper to understand what current students are excited about, mad about, pushing to change, or snarky about in general. Check out the social media accounts of clubs, academic majors, and others on campus. While it’s fine to look at the admission or main handle for the university, your goal is to get the unvarnished look at what’s really happening at each place you consider.
Is that a good school? Is that a good school for you? Is that a GOOD school?
My sincere hope is going forward you wont allow yourself or anyone around you to answer this question with one number, one word, or one facial expression. Are we good? GOOD!
Georgia Tech puts a good perspective on highly selective admissions, again. Take a look at their most recent blog.
In Part 1, we looked at the two fundamental ways American colleges make admission decisions. Now that you know how colleges review applications, it’s time to look at three important ways you should approach your college admission experience like an Olympian.
1) Train For Event - Not The Result.
Don’t get me wrong. I love watching the actual Olympic competitions: games, races, individual feats of strength, speed, and skill. But I am also a sucker for human-interest stories. It is incredible to see the athletes’ families, hometowns, the stringent training regimens, immense sacrifices, and longevity of focus which led to their Olympic moment.
Whether it be in emails, phone calls, or during information sessions and presentations, students constantly ask “What do I need to do to get in?” Hey, it’s a valid question, and I understand where it comes from. Too often in our culture this is the mentality. What do I need to do to get: the grade? the date? the raise? the car? and so on. As Americans in particular, we are results oriented.
However, I would assert Olympic athletes do not think this way. Sure. They want to win. They understand scores, times, or skills will come into play, but during the majority of training, their focus is on making the Olympic team and putting forth their best personal effort. In fact, sports psychologists constantly talk about envisioning actions, rather than obsessing about results. In other words, it’s not helpful to say, “picture yourself wearing a gold medal.” Instead, the message is, “Focus on executing. Imagine yourself running your best race or performing your best routine/dive/shot, etc. The results will take care of themselves.”
And that is my hope for you. Your job is to “train” for being a successful college student. Don’t picture yourself being a student at a certain place, which you absolutely cannot control. Instead, “practice” what will make you great regardless of where you end up. Simply put- BE A GOOD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT.
Work hard each day in the classroom.
Push and challenge yourself academically.
Learn to create a functional base of knowledge-- and be curious about what you don’t know.
Contribute to your school, family, and community.
College admission reps will use a lot of words – A LOT – to say all of this, but essentially a good college applicant is a good high school student. Colleges are looking for students who will be desperately missed by the people they leave behind in their school, community, neighborhood.
Applying an Olympic mentality means worrying less about the medal, the podium, the anthem, and instead committing to your day- to-day training. YOU GOT THIS!
2) Respect The Competition. TV coverage only brought us a fraction of the action. This year there were 33 sports, 46 disciplines, and 339 total medal events with over 11,500 athletes competing. In the Paralympic Games, which just started this week, another 4,400 athletes will take part. However, unless you had some super- secret Gold Combo #4 cable package you only saw a tiny percentage of those athletes or competitions.
As a high school student, this is one of the biggest challenges in the college admission experience- understanding the skills, strength, and potential of other applicants you never get to see or know. Colleges do a good job (often in a pretentious and boasting fashion) of describing how many applicants they received in the prior year, or their overall admit rate.
However, since you are not in the room where files are received and reviewed, it’s impossible to appreciate the talent of this set of students. If you are applying to a college or university with “Olympic” level admit rates, no GPA or test average will adequately convey the depth of their applicant pool. Sure, they will have some percentage of Eddie the Eagle applicants who are not competitive or “in profile,” but those are the outliers.
Talk to most college admission deans or counselors and they will marvel at the ability of students (hundreds or thousands) who do not end up “on their podium.” If you choose to apply to schools who are denying more students than they admit (sometimes by a wide margin), there is no guarantee. Yes, you have great grades, test scores, letters of rec, essays, and all the things. But so too do the other Olympians showing up at the Games. Again, this is why you need to build a college list with a range of selectivity.
I expound on the value of seeing or visualizing other applicants in Lessons and Hopes for High School Seniors, but if you are trying to decrease screen time or save your thumbs from scrolling, the take home message is basically covered in the conclusion of our last blog: “Before you ever submit an application to a college using holistic review, take the time to write down or say out loud that you are intentionally competing in gymnastics, rather than the high jump. You are choosing a nuanced, gray, and subjective competition and evaluation, and you are comfortable with the fact that numbers alone will not dictate your results. Promise yourself now that you will not waste time or energy (or precious weeks of your senior year) trying to predict the outcome. And, if you don’t end up on the “podium,” commit to handling your disappointment with class and grace.”
3) Check Your Ego and Be Patient. Dang. Even writing this sounds like some sick combination of harsh and unrealistic. Welcome to the Olympics! Clearly, you cannot talk about the Tokyo Games without mentioning Simone Biles. The truth is an entire blog would not cover the lessons learned from the GOAT. But I think the 2021 Olympic experience of MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey are more relevant to you anyway. Jade came to Tokyo as an individual, rather than part of the four-person team. MyKayla was literally about to fly back to the US when she got the text to come back to compete. Both left Tokyo with medals and unpredictable opportunities.
Olympians are used to the emotional roller coaster. If you listened to many of the interviews from Tokyo, you heard athletes from every sport and nation relay stories of “almost quitting” or “wanting to walk away,” because of the physical or mental toll of competing.
Good news- your admission experience is not going to be so physically taxing (unless you’re trying to type your essay while on the Peloton). However, you can expect some ups and downs, possible setbacks, and a timeline you will not dictate. You may get deferred, denied, or waitlisted. You may be an alternate for a scholarship or just miss being named valedictorian, NHS, Top 10%, or some other distinction you have been working for and focused on achieving. When this happens (and it will happen), remember Jade and MyKayla- get up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward. There will always be another opportunity, an open door, or an expected route to your goals.
Whether you are a senior about to apply to college or an underclassman just starting to explore possible options, I hope you will learn these critical lessons from the Olympics: Train for the event- not the result; respect the competition; and check your ego and be patient.
Class of 2022:
Are you getting ready to apply to a highly selective university, here is a great video from Johns Hopkins University that explains what kinds of information is helpful to the colleges as they are reviewing your applicaiton for admission.
Here are some good tips about how to approach the University of California Essay Prompts from Write the World Workshops blog.
Many of our upcoming seniors are in the midst of finalizing and building their college lists. There is a tool on the common application that allows you to research your colleges right from their site. Check this out:
- Explore Colleges tool. As students begin to consider their college choices and build their lists, Common App’s Explore Colleges tool allows students to learn about their college options virtually! Students can access the tool anytime, and explore the unique features of colleges and universities that most fit their needs.
Another great blog post from Georgia Tech -- take a look!
Traditionally, the work and world of college admission is cyclical. The early fall is about recruiting- hosting students on campus, traveling to high schools, college fairs, and communities to spread the word about your school. While Covid-19 may have disrupted how that was done, the concept held: fall= spread the word and plant seeds for the future.
Late fall and winter, at least for schools that have a holistic admission process, is about reading applications and making admission decisions. In many ways it requires the opposite skills and focus from the prior cycle- very inward focused and lots of time spent with colleagues vs. constituents.
In the spring, we turn our attention back to recruitment- convincing seniors to “choose us” from their other options via on campus programs or virtual or regionally hosted “yield” programs, as well as starting to talk with juniors or sophomores about future application.
And then there is the summer. While students are still visiting campus for tours, and there are orientations and documents arriving to ensure the new class is ready to enroll, this is the primary season for reflection.
What did we do well?
What do we need to improve, ditch, change for the year ahead?
Reviewing My Predictions
Right on cue last week, Sammy Rose-Sinclair, the “woman behind the curtain” of @GTAdmission social media handles and the engine behind our podcast, The College Admission Brief, asked if I thought I had gotten more of my admission/enrollment predictions right or wrong in my October 2020 blog “The Future of College Admission?”
A valid and timely question to consider. And, like so many answers in college admission, the truth is “it depends.”
Is a 3.9 GPA good? Well... it depends. Is that on a 4.0, 5.0, or 13.0 scale (yes, those are all out there).
Should I take AP English or dual enroll for English 101? Well... it depends on where you are dual enrolling, where you might ultimately apply to college, how those schools accept credit, which one you think you’ll actually learn more from, and so on.
The truth is you can basically answer any question with those two words and then just walk off stage- or exit the Zoom room, as it were. But I’m not going to do you like that. So, let’s take a look.
1- Application volume.
I wrote: "Most colleges will see fewer, or the same, rather than more applications this year....”
Well... it depends. Obviously, you have Colgate, UGA, several UCs, along with some nationally known and highly covered universities (known for their plant-based athletic league) saw significant application increases. In fact, so much digital real estate went to covering that handful of schools that many believe it to be the real narrative.
However, community colleges, regional publics, less selective private schools, as well as large swaths of colleges in geographic regions across our country lost students this year, and were either flat or down in 2021-2022 interest.
What does that mean for you as a future college applicant?
Well, only you can answer that question, but here’s another one to consider: Do you care?
Application Totals Through March 1
||One-Year Change in Applications
|Private, large, less selective
|Private, large, more selective
|Private, small, less selective
|Private, small, more selective
|Public, large, less selective
|Public, large, more selective
|Public, small, less selective
|Public, small, more selective
In 2020, Colgate’s first year class was approximately 800. UGAs non-resident number was not far from that. Recently, too many people have cited those two schools to be me as signposts of the “craziness of the year.” But if you are more interested in watching Hamilton than living in Hamilton, NY, or you don’t look good in red and can’t bark anyway, do these two places matter to you?
Let’s be honest- it's normally “adults” fueling the frenzy of consternation. If you have one of those in your life quoting limited statistics or regularly breathing heavily about college admission because of the headlines, you may have to be the adult by providing perspective and level-setting. Last I checked there were less than 65,000 total undergraduates in the Ivy League, whereas there are over 100,000 studying in Texas A&M system schools; there are 450+ schools still accepting applications right now; and many of the colleges receiving more applications this year also admitted more students due to concerns around yield.
2- Fewer Apps/ Student, aka A Narrower Net
I wrote: “As much as we’re all fatigued by this pandemic, it is not over. The financial impact on families, businesses, and communities is yet to be fully felt. As a result, I foresee 2021 seniors casting a narrower net when applying to college resulting in a lower application: student ratio.”
According to Common Application data, unique applicants who submitted at least one application increased 2% from 2019-20 (sounds like more support of being more right than wrong in Prediction #1), BUT “they have submitted 11 percent more applications than last year -- primarily to colleges in the Southwest (up 22.73 percent and in the South (up 15.47 percent). The mid-Atlantic and New England schools saw single digit increases." Whoops.
Sure, I could tell you that the Common App, while significant, only represents 900 of our nation’s 4000 colleges and universities. I could tell you that, like in #1, this varied across sector and region of the nation. I could cite my comment from the fall, “Let me be clear. There are going to be exceptions to this. Ivy League and Ivy-like schools with multibillion-dollar endowments will likely not be affected as much, so please don’t email me in six months saying I predicted Princeton’s admit rate was going to double. But here again we’re reminded those places are outliers and anomalies, not the signposts, in American Higher Education.” But those would be excuses and half-truths. Yea, it depends. But if we have to get binary, this one is leaning more toward wrong than right.
What does that mean for you as a future applicant?
In four simple words—BUILD A BALANCED LIST! If you remember nothing else frrom this blog (and I’m hoping you’ll primarily forget where I was wrong), it is this. If you apply to a set of schools that vary in their selectivity, geographic setting, and school type, you are going to have great offers- both in admission and financial aid. Your job as an applicant is the same as it is as a student: research, listen, ask good questions, seek perspective and stay broad/open-minded.
The truth is that many amazing colleges, due to losses during the pandemic, as well as concerns about future enrollment (see Demographic Cliff/ International fragility) are looking for students just like you. In fact, check your email or mailbox regularly in the next few weeks and you’ll notice this as truth.
Here is a question- do you think there is another high school in this country where you could go to make friends, get involved, and learn things? How about within your city or state? Would it be crazy to even say there are 5, 7, 11 other high schools out there where you could also graduate prepared for life beyond high school and generally happy? (Hint: the correct answer is Yes.)
Well... then take that same mentality and go find colleges with varying admit rates and academic profiles. To be very specific: a few below 50% admit rate and a few above.
GRADE: C (but not a grade inflated C, fyi.)
3- Bigger waitlists = longer cycle.
I wrote: “Selective colleges are going to hedge their bets on yield rates. This means they will likely put even more students on waitlists and start pulling students earlier in the cycle (in other words, expect to see more mid-April admits as healthy colleges see deposits roll come in)…Higher education is an ecosystem. As schools continue build their classes through waitlist offers in May and June, they will be pulling those students away from other colleges. This activity and domino effect will extend deep into the summer, just as it did in 2020. We anticipated a more extended cycle as a result of NACAC’s CEPP adjustments and Covid has served to further elongate that timeline.”
All of that seems to be true and has played out on some level. Honestly, the seemingly low degree to which schools went to their waitlists this year surprised me. That either means yield was higher than anticipated, or they put out more admits in order to adjust for flat-ish yield (my guess in most cases).
However, the number of students receiving waitlist offers, again according to school counselors (plus a few Reddit threads) did in fact play out to be “obnoxious” as predicted. We’ll see when Common Data Sets are released in the fall, but reports of more than a few schools waitlisting well over 10,000 students are prevalent. AND, the elongated cycle is also proving to be true.
What does that mean for you as a future applicant?
Waitlists are used by the school to ensure they hit their class goal. As an example, Georgia Tech initially offered 6,600 students. 3900 accepted a spot, and we’ve offered admission to 240 from our waitlist to this point. While our class seems to be very close to target at this point, we have not released our waitlist. Why? Because we continue to see students melting due to waitlist offers from other colleges, request gap years/gap semesters, and we are watching the international landscape to determine likelihood of visa issuance, particularly in Brazil and India.
Covid is forcing schools to re-build the predictive model they use to judge yield and melt. This is going to take several years. If you choose to apply to several schools with admit rates below 30%, you should expect to receive at least one waitlist offer. That may sound a little wet blanket, but again college and college admission are all about understanding history, analyzing statistics, and coming to logical conclusions based on information. Just saying.
GRADE: B+/ A-
It depends is the story of college admission this year.
Were apps/admit rates/yield up or down this year? It depends.
Were my predictions more wrong than right? It depends.
Should you continue to read this blog given the consistently mixed results? Well... I did include multiple caveats and disclaimers in that predictions blog, so it’s not like I won’t tell you when I am on shaky ground.
But here is one thing I do know to be true. If you have read this entire blog, you are a talented, smart, diligent, and committed student. So I’m 100% confident in this prediction: BUILD A BALANCED LIST and you will have great choices and options. BUILD A BALANCED LIST and you won’t need to dig into every line of a Common Data Set or maniacally follow sub threads next year. BUILDING A BALANCED LIST means that every school you apply to is your top choice, rather than reserving that moniker for one place.
Prediction: YOUR FUTURE GRADE= A+
May 1 is just around the corner and some students may have a tougher time making a decision. This Forbes article gives some good things to consider when trying to make your college choice.
Juniors have been really nervous about writing their first draft of their essay. Johns Hopkins has some great resources you may want to check out!
I recently read this article on good tips if you are heading out for campus visits over spring break. I really encourage making notes when you get back into the car -- you will forget what each college had to say and if you are visiting multiple campuses over the week, they will start to blend together!
Here is a website that can assist students in understanding who you they are and what they want in a college. Check it out and let us know what you think!
As we head into the College Search season with juniors. Here is a great article about how to prepare students for a College Fair.
Cornell College has put together a great list of resources for helping students and famlies complete the FAFSA, even a playlist! Check out their website:
Are you worried how much college will cost your family? Are you unsure of how much financial aid your family will receive? MyinTuition, a revolutionalry online tool, ensures that students and their families have quick and easy access to the information they need to make decisions about college affordability. Check it out at myintuition.org
Parents if you are looking for some good books to help guide conversations and the college search with your students, here are some ones we would recommend:
Dear Parents: A Field Guid for College Preparation by Jon McGee
The College Conversation: A Practical Companion for Parents to GuideTheir Children Along the Path to Higher Education by Eric J. Furda and Jaques Steinberg
Who Do You Think You Are? Three Crucial Conversations for Coaching Teens to College and Career Success by Shaun Fanning and Stephen Smith
Check out this great resource for keeping engaged when you are on a virtual visit with a college. Georgia Tech has created a Virtual Visit Bingo Sheet -- also will help generate questions you may have while you are hearing presentations.
Ever wonder what we mean when we say colleges are measuring "demonstrated interest." I found this great article from Santa Clara that gives some ideas of how you can do it.
Essays can often be the most stressful part of putting together a complete application. It is your one opportunity to share your voice, show who you are and what is important to you. Sometimes that can feel very intimidating. Here is a great article on essays that worked for Johns Hopkins applicants. Hopefully this can be helpful to you.
The college application process seems to have an even more stressful component to it as we deal with the effects of Covid-19 on our lives. I recently read a great article from the Dean at Bowdoin college on reassuring students how their applications will be considered and viewed. Take a look:
Are you taking an ACT this fall? Are you looking to improve your reading score? Check out this article:
The process of the college search has changed signficantly. Remember to ask important questions when you are meeting with representatives virtually. Take a look at this recent article to get some ideas.
Five Tips for How to Avoid Careless Errors on the ACT.
A tip about how to approach the English section on the ACT. Take a look:
I'm listening to this podcast developed by Yale University about the admission process. It could be really helpful for students, particularly those considering applying to a highly selective university. See what you think -- Mrs. Proctor
Check out this chat with Jon Boeckenstedt, Vice Provost of Enrollment Management at Oregon State University, about how they’re supporting students during their college search as well as some advice for students on approaching the college essay.
Here is a quick read article on some myths you may have heard about the ACT/SAT. Check it out!
Class of 2021, your college search process has looked very different from the classes before you. Ms. Kjorstad and I are still here to assist you with questions, where to start, and what to be thinking of next. Recently I was looking at this website that is focused on how to look at your college list through the financing piece. You may want to take a look at their resources.
We have seen more and more colleges going test optional for next year given the cancelled test dates this spring. Here is the announcement and website for searching all colleges for test optional status. If you have any questions, always reach out to your college counselor. We are here to assist!
Check out the freshly updated tally (1,244 accredited, 4-year schools are now test-optional !) and supplemental files (the list includes 85% of top-tier liberal arts colleges and 60% of the most selective national universities) at:
As always, please send additions, corrections, or questions to FairTest. Our test-optional lists attracted more than 30,000 unique visits in just the first two weeks of June, 2020 -- six times last year's volume -- so we want to be sure the information is current and accurate
Bob Schaeffer, interim Executive Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
contributor: The Scandal of Standardized Tests: Why We Need to Drop the SAT & ACT
(new from Teachers College Press, April 2020)
office- (239) 395-6773 mobile- (239) 699-0468
What a spring it has been?! I know we have some juniors out there that are worried about their spring and summer plans being cancelled and how that might look to their colleges. First, colleges understand that the most important thing right now is to stay healthy and safe. However, if you are trying to think of new activities to keep you busy locally this summer, here are some ideas:
For families welcoming home their college students back for Thanksgiving Break. Here is a great article:
CLASS OF 2020 - Here we go!
An article worth reading from admissions deans on how to approach your application.
An article to help students and parents as they enter the college admission process:
A fun video of tips to remember during this college application process.
Take a look at this article which lists 5 great tips as you move into the application process next year!
See the following article from Georgia Tech to understand how you can approaching being on the "waitlist".
Listen to the audio version here.
- Pink eye.
- A car hitting a puddle and soaking you from the waist down.
- Someone eats the last Girl Scout cookie but leaves the box in the pantry.
- Back pain.
- Your car needs need a new timing belt.
Feel free to add on to this list of Things That Suck, but I figured I’d get you started. Surprisingly, it can be a bit cathartic to just toss them out there. I find it enjoyable to say these with gusto while leaning in slightly, gritting my teeth, narrowing my eyes, clenching my fist, and adding the disdain only rivaled by Jerry in Seinfeld episodes when he’d curse the name Newman! (Yes, I expect you to click on that link if you don’t know that reference. This is a life-enriching blog.)
In college admission, I’d argue the most Newman-worthy word is waitlist. A few years ago I wrote a three-part series called “The Waitlist Sucks.” Since that time, we have seen political change, population growth, and new world champions crowned. But The Waitlist Still Sucks! Here’s why.
Reason #1: I’m Not That Smart
Why does this admission purgatory exist at all? Well, it depends who you ask. Deans, directors, and other enrollment managers will say it is because predicting 17 and 18 year-old behavior is not an exact science. After all, if we could precisely determine the number of students who would accept our offer of admission and deposit (yield) by the May 1 National Candidate Reply Deadline, waitlists would not be necessary. So in addition to reading applications all year from students who make A’s in classes I can’t even spell or accomplish things in under 20 years I’ll never achieve in my lifetime, the waitlist is an annual reminder that I’m just not that smart.
Waitlists are basically a cushion. Colleges build and utilize historical yield models in order to predict the number of students we think will say yes to their offer of admission. However, because the number of beds in residence halls, the number of seats in classrooms, and the faculty:student and advisor:student ratios are very specific, they intentionally plan to come in slightly below their target. In many cases, they do this in order to account for years when the model changes and students “over-yield.” If you are applying to a school that over-enrolled the year prior (cough… Georgia Tech), you can be sure they will be extremely conservative, e.g. filling an even higher number of spaces from the waitlist.
The waitlist also exists to allow schools to meet institutional priorities. After the May 1 deadline, colleges evaluate their deposited class and use their waitlist to increase desired demographics that were not met in the initial round of admission offers. This could mean more students from a particular state or geographic region to proliferate their college’s brand. Perhaps they just hired a new dean in business who is clamoring to grow the program. Or maybe they are trying to increase male enrollment in their education department. The bottom line is college waitlists are not restaurant waitlists. You are not ranked or assigned a number. Instead, they hand-pick applicants to fill a specific purpose. Cushion, institutional priorities, unpredictable teenager thought process. Call it what you will. Bottom line: I’m just not that smart. Newman!
Reason #2: Waiting sucks (add this, and losing to your rival in the final seconds of a game, to the list at the top.)
You applied. You waited. You waited some more. You took up curling and counted the number of Cheerios in your bowl each morning. You watched the rain fall. Finally, decision day arrives. You take a deep breath, say whatever type of prayer, hex, good luck incantation seems most fitting, enter your password, and… What?! No! Oh no you didn’t.
I wish I had a good tip for you. All I can say is what you already know—waiting is hard. Uncertainty is frustrating and unsettling. Feeling better? Yeah, I get it. I’m guessing you’re also not going to like to hear that life is full of situations just like this one. Will I get a new job, and when? Will the results of this test come back from the doctor with life-changing implications? For many of you this is the first of many big situations that mean waiting, hoping, praying, and learning to be content and joyful in the present, regardless of your circumstances. That is a challenge at any age—you are just getting some early practice. Congratulations??
**Special note/apology: Some of you were deferred and will now receive a waitlist offer. Welcome to the 9th level of admission hell. We don’t like doing it and we know you hate dealing with it. This year UNC-Chapel Hill moved away from that progression by no longer deferring anyone in EA and rather pushing students straight into waitlist. Is that kinder, gentler admission or just Newman showing up earlier in the episode? You decide.
Reason #3: It’s an ego hit.
“What’s wrong with me?” “Why did that other kid get in and not me?” “How is my 3.8 and 1520 not good enough?” Please, hear me adamantly reminding you: This is not a value judgment! Again, as my colleague Pam Ambler from Pace Academy here in Atlanta so astutely put it, “How admission decisions feel is not how they are made.” YOU are amazing! YOU are talented. Yes. I am talking to you. YOU—with the iPad out or scanning your phone, or reading this while you’re pretending to listen in class or to a friend. That doesn’t mean it does not sting, burn, or make you want to scream, “Newman!” (Feels good, right?)
Keep your head up. Don’t let a school’s decision (based on factors well outside your control) shake your confidence. Your goal is to have the confidence to embrace uncertainty as an adventure rather than a burden. Great days ahead, my friends. Where exactly? I don’t know. But walk confidently and keep your head up. You got this.
Being in limbo is tough enough on its own. But adding to the angst, frustration, and ego hit is that everyone else seems to be set and living a smooth, stress-free life as they finish high school. Seems is the key word here. Trust me—they still have their own issues and doubts. They are only posting their (occasional) fancy meals and best hair days on Instagram. And you better believe those pics are highly photo-shopped and multi-filtered.
I understand lots of your friends already know or soon will know where they are going to college next year. I hope you’ll have the vision and character not to spend your energy envying them but rather celebrating with them. This will come back around. This is all going to work out. Love on them now and they’ll be thrilled when you’ve made your final decision too. Trust.
So, what can you do?
- Accept your spot. At most schools the waitlist decision is actually an offer, rather than an automatic secured spot. Typically, you need to take action of some kind to accept or claim your waitlist spot. If you do claim your spot, be sure you also complete anything additional they ask you to submit. Is there a supplementary short answer question to complete? Do they want mid-semester grades sent, or another recommendation letter or an interview? All places vary. Admission 101 = read what they send and do what it says.
- Deposit elsewhere. The college that has offered you a spot on their waitlist should be instructing you to take this step, as it is absolutely critical. Because most schools won’t have a firm sense of deposits until late April, the majority of waitlist activity occurs in May and June. Since May 1 is the National Candidate Reply Date, you need to put your money down at another college in order to secure your spot in their class. Just like the college, you are hedging your bets.
I sort of hate to be the one to tell you this, but just in case no one else will do it… the statistics/odds say you are likely not coming off the waitlist. Yes, there is always a chance. Dark horses win races. It somehow did rain for the 83rd straight day in Atlanta. Don’t hear me say it’s impossible. But if I were you I’d get excited about the school that accepted you and where you chose to deposit in March or April.
- Don’t stalk the admission office. Claim your spot, send in what they ask for, and wait. That’s it. If you really feel compelled to send an email to an admission counselor that you’ve met or corresponded with previously, that could be your other action item. If you do that, it’s a one and done deal. We have seen students send a painted shoe with a message on the bottom reading: “just trying to get my foot in the door.” Memorable, but ultimately ineffective. Admission offices regularly receive chocolates, cookies, and treats along with poems or notes. It is safe to say that a couple hundred grams of sugar and a few couplets are not going to outweigh institutional priorities. There is a distinct line between demonstrating interest and stalking. Stay in your lane.
At the end of the day, my hope is you will not let being on a waitlist keep you from enjoying the last part of your senior year. Have fun on spring break. Go to prom. Take the opportunity to thank your teachers or read something outside of school in which you are genuinely interested.
Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where the admission experience is perfect. Students apply to their one and only dream school (likely without having to write an essay or pay an application fee); the college admits them all with full scholarships; students arrive on campus singing, smiling, and holding hands; they all earn (not get) 4.0 GPAs, retain at 100%, graduate in four years, get high paying and highly fulfilling jobs after graduation, name their babies after the admission director… you get the picture.
Until then... we have the waitlist (and it still sucks!).
Parents hosting their college students back at home: Here is an article about managing this new stage in your relationship.
Parents and Students: Georgia Tech Admission Office has an excellent blog about the admission process. Recent posts entitled Preparation Day and Handling that Moment are particularly good in discussing that moment when students receive a defer or deny admission decision. Your college counselors would offer much the same advice but we understand that when you hear it from the Director of Admission at Georgia Tech, it definitely makes you listen!
Planning a College Visit Road Trip?! I thought this article had great tips of things to think about when you are doing multiple college visits at the same time. As always, if you have questions, see your college counselor.
Interested in hearing a new podcast?! I listened to this podcast last year and even though it was recorded from 2015-2016, I thought the information on the college process was really interesting. If you listen, let me know what you think. -- Mrs. Proctor
Parents of 2018 and 2019 -- this is an interesting read about preparing students for the highs and lows of college life. Take a look.
I saw this article recently by Jay Barcania at Signet Education. I thought it might be helpful for our seniors.
Here is a checklist that our seniors should know before they hit the dormroom!
What Seniors Need to Know Before Heading Off to College
Before attending college, students should be able to:
Do their own laundry (including washing, drying, and ironing)
Execute basic cleaning tasks: sweeping/vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and wiping down toilets and sinks
Wash and dry dishes (using a dishwasher and by hand)
Prepare basic meals, and safely use a microwave, oven, and stove
Use the local public transit system (buses/trains) and call a taxi/Uber/Lyft
Perform basic car maintenance like filling up on gas and adding air to the tires; know how often to get an oil change; ideally also know how to change a tire and top off fluids
Open a bank account and use a checkbook (including writing checks and recording on the register)
Calculate the tip at a restaurant
Use a credit card (including interacting with their credit card company, making payments on time, and spending responsibly)
Address an envelope and send a letter
Register to vote and identify where their voting location is (or send in an absentee ballot)
Keep track of important personal information, such as Social Security Number and health insurance
Manage online accounts (including keeping login information organized in a safe, secure location)
Make and keep track of doctors’ appointments
Maintain a calendar system to keep their schedule organized
Deploy study skills and create a study plan
Take action in the event of an emergency (medical emergency, fire, weather emergency, etc.)
Ask for help or support, academically or emotionally (or know what resources are available for assistance)
Kaplan is offering a series of webinars I thought our parents may find interesting -- take a look!
|College Bound: Online Workshops for Parents
Streamed Live on YouTube
The transition from college to high school is a stressful time for families. Let parents learn how to manage this stress, and get answers to their most pressing financial and admissions questions with Kaplan’s live online event series, College Bound: Online Workshops for Parents.
- Inside College Admissions, Wednesday, June 20, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET
Our admissions experts from Drew University, University of Maryland, and UC Irvine give the inside scoop on what makes a great applicant, how to create a stand-out essay, and more.
- College Transition: How to Manage the Stress, Wednesday, July 11, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET
Kaplan guest panelist Ali Hoke, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Board Certified Counselor, will teach parents important strategies to minimize the stress for everyone.
Each event is hosted by Kaplan’s hand-picked experts and will be streamed live on YouTube. Parents can sign up for one, two, or all three events, but they should hurry—seats are limited.
- College Tuition: How to Pay Less and Get More, Wednesday, July 25, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM ET
Kaplan’s special guest Sabrina Manville, co-founder of Edmit, will explain how families can get the most for the their money when it comes to paying for college.
Is the college application process making your family crazy? Learn how to manage this stress, and get answers to your most pressing financial and admissions questions with Kaplan’s free live online event series starting June 20. Learn more at www.kaptest.com/parents.
For the class of 2018 and their parents, how students should spend the summer after their senior year!
Make the Most of Senior Summer
Senior summer may be one of the last opportunities your student has for true free time. As you well know, growing up and becoming an adult comes with a set of ongoing obligations and responsibilities that are hard to shake. Graduating seniors, on the other hand, are looking forward to a time when high school is complete but college has not yet started; there isn’t very much they are obligated to do, and taking advantage of that fact can be a great thing.
On the other hand, senior summer is a meaningful time of transition for your student, and we recommend making the most of it through a combination of purposeful activities, personal reflection, and a bit of fun. Here are some ways your student can make the most of senior summer:
Clean out the closet. In fact, help your student clean out their entire room while you’re at it! Students will be able to eliminate items that they don’t wear/use, need to replace, or anything that no longer represents who they are.
Get an internship or part-time job. An internship is the perfect way to explore possible career paths that interest your student, and a part-time job is a great way to save up a little spending money before college.
Take self-defense and CPR classes. Students may want to investigate self-defense courses to help them feel safer on campus, and they may want to look into CPR/first-aid classes in order to be able to deal with emergency situations that might arise. These opportunities might also be available on your student’s college campus.
Establish an exercise routine. Colleges have plenty of resources available to help students stay fit (gyms, pools, tennis courts, etc.). However, unless your student is playing a college sport, they will have to find the internal motivation to exercise. Establishing a routine now is a healthy habit!
Go dorm-room shopping. Avoid the crushing lines in your student’s university town by doing some dorm-room shopping in advance. Most schools will provide lists of items students will need, so you can determine what you already have and what needs to be purchased.
Read for fun. Students can use downtime to catch up on non-required reading, which may help them regain an appreciation for reading for the fun of it.
Be a local tourist. Spend a day with your student in or around your hometown, doing all the things visitors do that you never seem to get around to.
Spend time with family. Whether it’s a road trip or just prioritizing sitting down to dinner together, make an effort to spend quality family time with your student.
Connect with friends. Recognize that your student will also want to use senior summer to spend time with friends, especially those who won’t be attending the same school in the fall. It’s hard to let go of them during these precious moments, but do your best.
Thank the people who have made a difference. Encourage students to reach out to mentors or other adults who have positively influenced them. They may or may not sustain those relationships once they’re in college, so now’s the time.
Look back on the high school experience. A lot of insight can be gained by reflecting on the high school experience. What lessons were learned? What doors were opened? What did the journey of the last four years look like for your student?
Start thinking about what’s next. Your student is probably already doing a fair amount of thinking/wondering/worrying about what comes next. Encourage them to use this energy productively by focusing on what they want to get out of the college experience.
Jay Bacrania | Owner & CEO
Signet Education, LLC (formerly Veritas Tutors)
This is an interesting article written a couple of years ago, but the information is still very applicable. Selective college admission is a stressful process, but this article puts it into perspective for us all.
UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA VISIT
March 19-20, 2017
I had the great pleasure of visiting the University of Tampa. Tampa is a city with beautiful waterways and an approachable downtown. Delta offers direct flights right to Tampa and the Tampa airport is small and easy to navigate (no line at all when I was going through the security check before my return flight).
When I arrived in Tampa, it was high 70s and sunny – not a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful weather for both days I was there. I got the sense that this is the norm in Tampa. Our hotel was located on the Tampa River Walk, which is a walkway along the river with hotels, parks and restaurants. There are water sports along the river, so you will see many boats and floating bikes. The houses along the bay are owned by professional athletes and business owners and are beautiful. We ate dinner at Ulele’s, which was an oyster, seafood and steak restaurant on the River Walk. I highly recommend it if you are visiting the area!
To get to University of Tampa from our hotel, we drove along a popular roadway along the river where you will see a residential area much like Lake of the Isles and neighborhoods like uptown with eclectic restaurants and shops. Students at Tampa use a variety of transportation services to get around. They have one hour rental cars on campus, Uber, and a Tampa specific cab service (cars look like electric cars) that will take students around Tampa for no fee, just a tip to the driver. Downtown Tampa is blocks from campus and many students walk to their downtown jobs and internships. It is also easy to find part-time jobs both on and off campus.
University of Tampa is the only college in Tampa, so the students have first availability to all the government, business, communication, etc., jobs and internships in the city. NBC is 3 blocks away, the Newspaper is 4 blocks away, they have a city Aquarium and the Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey. It allows for great partnerships between the city and the college. University of Tampa is a medium sized school with 7,000 undergraduate students.
The campus residence halls are like many college campuses (large apartment style complexes), but there is always a bathroom within the room and it is cleaned by school personnel once a week. Rooms are traditionally shared with two to three students. They seemed to be larger than most that I have seen on college tours. The Honors housing sits right on the river – beautiful – with its own sand volleyball court and kitchen space for the smaller hall to use. (You need a 3.5+ to be considered for the honors program.) They have a variety of upperclassmen housing being built, but it sounded like many students live on campus the first two years and then move off campus the second two years. There is Greek life on campus, but no Greek housing.
University of Tampa has a new Innovation and Collaboration building where entrepreneurs can attend workshops and have actual space in the center to begin to build their business and plan. They have resident business mentors – it is a creative space for brainstorming, mentoring, reflection and collaboration. It is a space open to all students on campus. Obviously, many business majors are using it, but it is open to anyone that is interested in getting help in building a business idea.
Students at University of Tampa are active: they just built an enormous student fitness center with more cardio machines than I have ever seen, workout rooms, biking rooms, and free weights. Many students at University of Tampa are interested in intramurals. They are a Division 2 University – baseball has a great reputation for sending players on to the major leagues. Soccer and basketball are also very big on campus. The fields were right in the middle of campus. Hockey is also on campus, but it is a D3 sport.
Cybersecurity is a big area of emphasis in majors on campus. Central command for the U. S. Armed Forces is located in Tampa, MacDill Air Force Base. It is the Special Ops Headquarters and the war in Iraq is led from this base. It is the most “hacked” city in the country. The CIA offers information sessions every year on campus, the FBI recruits 2x a year on campus. Cybersecurity, Criminology and Criminal Justice are some of the campuses’ biggest majors.
University of Tampa also has many health related fields and majors, including: nursing, physician’s assistant, athletic training, exercise and nutrition science, sports management and pre-med. We toured the nursing labs and I have never seen so many actual simulation stations within a college. The director of the program wants students working on skills all the time, so he will have multiple skill simulations happening at once. There are 60 nursing students admitted a year – there is no direct admit. Students apply once they are on campus. The nursing students will start the spring of their sophomore year. Also, there are four pre-med internships over the summer. They are also starting a Physician’s Assistance program in August of 2019. The number one hospital in Florida is five blocks from campus.
Marine Science is also a big major on campus. University of Tampa has its own marine science research facility on the bay. Their most popular majors are: biology (there are three tracks: biology, marine science and environmental science), finance, criminology and criminal justice, and nursing. In the biology areas of concentration, every student takes the same core classes of chemistry, biology, calculus and genetics. There are 26 faculty members in the program and they all have research with students happening on campus. If you are going to be a biology major, you will have to retake biology and chemistry on campus, even if students have AP credit in biology or chemistry.
Film, TV and communications: there are concentrations in media studies, creative production, screenwriting, journalism – there are travel options for classes available. There are many journalism and production internships in Tampa. There are 100 Film/Media Arts majors, 60 journalism majors and 350 advertising/Public Relations majors in the department.
The nuts and bolts:
University of Tampa is a selective university – they admit about 48% of the students that apply. They are a medium sized university – just under 8000 undergraduate students. They have an Early Action deadline of November 15, but will be rolling admission after that, which means they will review applications right away and work to get a decision to a student as quickly as they are able. They are 48% male and 52% female and have all 50 states represented on campus. They are $38,892 for tuition, room and board. Ninety-four percent of students receive some kind of aid from University of Tampa. Fifty percent of students take some kind of student loan – the average indebtedness of those students is about $26,000. The largest classroom on campus holds 75 students (you will not find a large lecture hall class at University of Tampa). Only 3% of classes are over 40 students. Only twenty-four percent of students are from Florida (you won’t be the only out-of-stater on campus!) and 15% of the students are international. There is an honors program, as I mentioned above and they give three honors students a semester the opportunity to study at Oxford University in England. The Director of Admission described the successful University of Tampa student as metropolitan (used to a city and knows how to access it), cosmopolitan (willing to learn from different people and cultures on campus) and independent (can manage their life independently). I recommend checking out University of Tampa!
MRS. PROCTOR’S VISIT TO HIGH POINT UNIVERSITY
March 15-16, 2017
Ms. Kjorstad visited High Point University in July of 2016; her blog is directly below. Because our visits were so close together, we experienced the same itinerary and highlights. I would encourage you to read Ms. Kjorstad’s blog in addition to mine, as I will try to highlight new insights as much as possible, rather than repeating the same information.
First, High Point University is really like no other campus I have ever seen. The facilities are AMAZING. It does feel a little like a fancy country club – lots of beautiful buildings, green space with fountains, and splendor as far as one can see. However, when you hear from the president of the campus, you will understand that it is more than just building a beautiful campus, but there is a purpose behind every decision. The college wants to prepare their students to do well in the world (in many aspects). One of the ways the university would like the students to do well in is in gaining employment. They understand that students may need to interview in surroundings that are beautiful; they want the students to feel comfortable in extraordinary surroundings. Also, they know when students walk into a grand entrance in an academic building, they are walking a little straighter, are preparing themselves to learn and be serious about their courses. They set a high standard and students are meeting it. Faculty is on campus every day – not just when they teach classes three days a week. The president believes that faculty is employed for the students benefit and therefore need to be available to them every day. He tells faculty that “every student you have is good.” He truly believes in the good of each individual and helping them “grow, evolve, mature and be prosperous.” High Point University was just named one of the “Colleges that Encourage Character Development.” The students gave over 100,000+ hours in community service and donated over $1,000,000 to charity.
There is a saying at High Point, “Every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.” I would say my experience there was everything this saying espouses to do. As Ms. Kjorstad stated in her blog below, there are four pillars to the education at High Point. All students are being educated to be prepared to go on to graduate school, whether at High Point or other places, or to be employed. Ninety-five percent of their graduates are either employed or in graduate school six months out of High Point. Of the students that applied to graduate school, 97% were admitted. Of the 97% admitted, 87% were admitted to their first choice. In addition to career and educational preparation, there is a fourth pillar, “Development of Life Skills.” As Ms. Kjorstad discussed below, this class is taught once a week to all first year students by the president of the University. This is to help them develop personally. Topics that are covered in the seminar class are: time management, personal finance, communication and the importance of serving others. Students I spoke to on campus talked about this seminar and what they learned as a class they appreciated – not only because it was taught by the president – but because it was relevant information and they felt that the president really cared about them and was preparing them well for the world.
In my presentation from the president, he stated, “To whom much is given, much is required.” He wants all the students at High Point to be thinking about “what is your purpose?” He expects the students at High Point to be developing citizens of the world. Another point that Ms. Kjorstad mentions, but that I was also highly impressed with was that all students are assigned success coaches. These are coaches that not only help develop course schedules, they help make research connections on campus, help with transition to college and homesickness, and any other topics for which a student may be struggling. Also, all students will have a common experience. Students will read a text and spend a year exploring the text through presentations and discussions. Next year the common text will be “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery.” The next emphasis on campus will be “growth mindset.” Helping students understand that they are always able to get better in whatever they are doing.
Students at High Point are also highly involved. 800 students are involved in club sports. There are so many clubs and organizations! My tour guide talked about all her student clubs and student jobs – I really asked her if she ever slept! There is a lot to do, if you have interest.
High Point does offer transportation to the two major airports: Greensboro and Charlotte. The transportation is free if students wear something that says “High Point University”. There is a full time physician on campus in Health Services.
High Point also gives scholarships for talent (music, theater, athletics) but also for leadership and academics. They have a variety of academic scholarships – the lowest level starts with a 3.25. Eighty-three percent of students received some kind of scholarship from High Point. They also have several honors programs at High Point.
Population (4600 undergraduates, 1375 1st year students, 42% male, 63% from public schools, and 99% live on campus) Diversity (18.5% of students are from underrepresented minorities). Thirty percent of students are Catholic.
Top Majors on Campus: Business (top area of interest is entrepreneurship), Undecided, Communication, Exercise Science, Biology, Psychology, and Education (5 year master’s available and special certification available for Lego Training). Popular Programs include: Actuarial Science, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, and graphic design. Their Event Management program is #1 in the world. There is a 5 year Athletic Training program and they have internships available in all professional North Carolina teams. High Point Advisors can offer 4 year study plans for ALL pre-professional programs: Dentistry, Medicine, etc.
High Point University is the Furniture Capital of the World! This allows for many different internships: Communication, Event Management, Business, etc. Building is always happening on campus and next month they will be starting to build a $65 million new College of Undergraduate Science.
To see their Innovators in Residence program on campus (this is Steve Jobs this year), go to highpoint.edu/innovators. There is SO much I could tell you about this campus, please stop by and see me!
Check out our new College of the Month!
Our new college of the month is Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. To find out more interesting facts and to check out pictures of their beautiful campus, stop by the CCC!
Franklin & Marshall has 2200 undergraduate students, 145 student clubs and organizations, sixty-five percent of students are involved in research with a faculty member and they have over 200 programs in 65 countries for study abroad.
It's not too late to file the FAFSA
SENIORS: IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA
While the FAFSA opened in October, it’s not too late to get yours completed. Here are some tips to make the process easier.
1. You can’t get aid if you don’t apply. Some students and families believe that their income is too high, so they don’t even apply. Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial assistance, regardless of income.
2. Timing is important. While students may actually submit the FAFSA later in the year, state and college financial aid programs may have earlier cutoff dates. If students delay, they could miss out on first-come, first-served money for college. Apply today!
3. A little prep goes a long way. Students should gather necessary information before they start the FAFSA: their Social Security and driver’s license numbers, their parents’ Social Security numbers and birth dates, 2015 income tax returns, W-2 forms, and bank statements.
4. Just because it says FAFSA, doesn’t mean it is FAFSA. Beware of scams. There are websites with FAFSA in their name that charge processing fees — and they certainly aren’t official. The “F” in FAFSA stands for FREE. The only site to use for getting an FSA ID and submitting the FAFSA is FAFSA.gov. Remember parents and students need different email addresses!
For more tips and updates about FAFSA, visit SallieMae.com/FAFSA.
Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do for college financial aid. It’s what schools use to put together your financial aid package, including grants, work-study, and federal loans. Some people don’t submit one because they think they won’t qualify. But there’s no income cut-off to qualify for financial aid. And a lot of other factors are taken into consideration. So, don’t assume you won’t qualify. Fill it out! Visit www.salliemae.com/fafsa. See you college counselor with any questions!
College of the Month
Every month we highlight a new "College of the Month". Are you interested in learning more about different college options, remember to check the board each month. This month we are highlighting Seton Hall University. Seton Hall University is located in South Orange, New Jersey, an easy commute to New York City. It is a medium sized, private, Catholic university. Seton Hall has many outstanding academic programs. A few to highlight would include: nursing, international relations and global relations, sports fitness and management, education, as well as traditional liberal arts. Check out the board if you want to know more.
High Point University by Ms. Kjorstad
I have been hearing for years about High Point University from college counseling colleagues who have visited the campus. They routinely describe it as “a campus like no other”. I have been invited to visit High Point for the past three summers but have been unable to participate in their tour until this summer. Despite my initial fears about the heat and humidity of North Carolina in July, I am so glad I was able to see this campus and I am excited to tell you about it.
High Point was founded in 1924 and enrolls about 5000 undergraduate students. In 2005, Nido Qubein, an alum of the school and a successful entrepreneur/businessman, became the 7th President of High Point. President Qubein has led a transformation of this campus that has tripled the size of the school. Under his leadership, the school has spent millions on new buildings and faculty. This growth and the change to the campus are astounding.
The night I checked in for the Counselor program, the school hosted a dinner and tour of the Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant program at our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott in High Point which is adjacent to the mall and is about 10 minutes from campus. After dinner we walked across the parking lot to an old Circuit City or something similar that now serves as the temporary space for the Physician Assistant program and the clinical space for the Physical Therapy program. Despite the “temporary” nature of the space, it was impressive. A new Health Science building is almost done and the academic portions of the program will move from the temporary space to campus in the fall. This will leave 29,000 feet of research space available as a free clinic for the community which the PT students can use for clinical space. The Physical Therapy program should enroll its first class for the fall of 2017 and the Dean of the program has a goal to make this a Top 5 Graduate Program in the nation within five years. The school also offers a Doctorate in Pharmacy.
The next day, we spent the day on the actual campus. All I can is “Wow”. The campus has been transformed over the past 11 years with an emphasis on new and renovated facilities. The campus grounds are meticulously maintained. It is a beautiful campus of water fountains, towering spires or domes on most buildings and throughout campus there are benches with sculptures of great thinkers and people of influence. Classical music is playing on the promenade so students are exposed to learning in and out of the classroom. The school motto is “Choose to be extraordinary” and students are encouraged to believe in the “art of the possible”.
Every first-year student has a “freshmen success coach” aka class advisors. The academic buildings on campus look more like corporate headquarters than classrooms. There are 4 pillars to the High Point experience: Academics, Experiential learning (built into class work but also have summer research grants for all majors), Modeling values and Character development, and Development of life skills. President Qubein teaches a required seminar during the first year called “President’s Seminar on Life Skills”. Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple, is an “Innovator in Residence” and there is a wall of past guest speakers in the Theater that could rival any Ivy League college in the Nation. It is obvious that High Point works hard to bring “real world” influences into the classroom and community of High Point.
Admission to High Point is selective. They have an Early Decision (binding) deadline of Nov 1 and about 30% of their class comes from the Early Decision pool. Their Early Action (non-binding) deadline is Nov 15 and March 1 is their Regular Decision deadline. Students who apply Early Decision or Early Action will be considered for merit scholarships at the point of admission. High Point is a Common App school and they accept up to 2 letters of recommendation. They require that all applicants have two years of a foreign language but prefer three years or more. They have a variety of scholarships that are renewable and can actually increase if students participate in Scholarship Weekend. 80% of students are from outside NC (top states are NY, CT, and NJ) and 4% are international--38 foreign countries represented. All 50 states represented on campus. Average ACT for admitted students is 25 and average GPA is 3.83. They will super score for both the ACT and the SAT.
High Point offers 47 majors and 51 minors. Unique programs include Actuarial Science, Pre-Pharmacy, Sports Management, Visual Merchandising, Computer Science, sales (special options in furniture sales), Interactive Gaming and Game Design and their Interior Design program is ranked in the top Ten nationally. All students must take at least 2 language courses to graduate with the goal of communicative competence and culture. School of Education includes special Education and offers American Sign Language as a minor.
The PA, PT and Pharmacy programs will offer an interview to all HPU undergrads who meet all the requirements. This is significant especially with PT and PA as they have thousands of applicants for maybe 50 spots.
93% of all students choose to live in the residence halls and I think they would be crazy NOT to live on campus. Seriously! These residence halls are like nothing I have ever seen—there are levels of housing from 1-7 with the cost and amenities increasing in level. We toured a level three freshmen dorm and it had a Queen Sized bed and marble sinks in the bathroom. I mean…what? There is a Greek Housing village on campus for the sororities and fraternities. There are also 5 outdoor swimming pools so regardless of where you live on campus; you have access to a pool.
They have a variety of meal plans and restaurants on campus including Chick Fil e, Subway, Starbucks, the Good Day Bakery, Jamba Juice just to name a few. Students get 7 magic meals a week as part of their meal plan which can be used at on campus restaurants. Oh, and they have a campus Steak House called 1924 Prime that is part of one of the “magic meals”. The wait staff of the 1924 Prime is also trained in etiquette so students eating there will find it a tutorial on proper etiquette for meals. The goal is to prepare students for the real world if they someday have a business dinner with clients or future employers. My favorite part of the 1924 Prime experience? No cell phones and if someone uses one at a meal, they are banned for a month. I had an amazing meal at 1924 Prime and also ate lunch in the dining hall—both meals were phenomenal.
Despite the high quality of campus facilities and experiences, High Point is relatively affordable at a total cost of $45,977 for tuition, room and board for 2016-17 school year. Yes, I realize $45,000 IS expensive but when compared to similar schools even in Minnesota—this feels like a deal. Also, parking, tickets to athletic events (they are Division I), airport transportation, printing, laundry, tutoring, major concerts on campus and community engagement events are all complimentary as part of tuition. High Point is about 45 minutes from the Raleigh/Durham airport but they provide free shuttles IF students wear High Point gear to the airport. That is a great deal and in their mind, free advertising for the school.
Like every other campus in the world, this school isn’t right for every student. After visiting, I do have a much clearer sense of their students and feel more qualified to explain it to parents and students. This campus has to be seen to truly be understood. If you can’t get to campus, they have an impressive virtual door on their website. Here is the link http://www.highpoint.edu/admissions/#virtualtour As always, I look forward to answering your questions or telling you more in person. Thanks for reading about my North Carolina adventures!
A Hidden Gem—Elon University by Ms. Kjorstad
One of my favorite visits this summer was to Elon University in Elon, NC. While I initially added it to our schedule as an afterthought, it ended up being my favorite visit of the week. We drove to Elon the night before our visit and stayed at the Acorn Inn, a great bed and breakfast blocks from campus. Their website is http://www.acorninnelon.com/ if you prefer a more traditional hotel; there are many options in nearby Burlington. Once we settled in, we walked downtown (4 blocks) to dinner at The Root which was incredible—great Southern food. I highly recommend the Fried Green Tomato BLT, the Crispy Topped Fries and the Crispy Brussels Sprouts—seriously delicious. For a small town, they have a large variety of great food spots. Before we left Elon after our tour the next day, we had lunch at Simply Thai and Sushi and it was fantastic!
After visiting 2 large Universities in one day, arriving at Elon’s Admission Office was a joy! As we drove around the campus, I was stunned by how beautiful it was. I admired the bucolic lawns and flowers, gorgeous water fountains and grand, old trees and buildings. There was ample parking right outside the Admission building and when we entered the Admission Office we were greeted enthusiastically and directed to a lovely presentation room. The Information Session started with an impressive admission video that gave me chills (I am such a sap for this kind of thing). Our admission rep, Dana, was actually the presenter and she did a fabulous job sharing the Elon experience with the group.
Elon is a private University with an enrollment of 5700 students. Eighty percent of their students are from outside North Carolina and there are students from 49 US states and 49 countries. Elon is Division I with teams in all the areas you would expect though they only have Women’s Lacrosse (sorry boys!).
Elon has undergraduate Schools in Business, Communication, Education and Arts and Sciences. Some unique majors include Marketing and Entrepreneurship in the Business School, Sport and Event Management in the School of Communications and Health and Human Performance in the School of Education. In addition to their Law School, Elon also has a professional school of Heath Sciences which includes a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies. They also offer a 3+2 program for an MS in Accounting.
One of Elon’s greatest strengths is it’s School of Communication—it is one of only eighteen Communication programs accredited by the ACEJMC in the nation and boasts 2 production studios and “ridiculously cool spaces”(according to our tour guide) in their new building which opens this fall. Many of the student tour guides I met before my tour had a double major or concentration in one of the Communication program which includes majors in Journalism, Strategic Communication, Cinema and Television Arts, Communication Design, Media Analytics and Sport and Event Management. Here is a link to their website: http://www.elon.edu/e-web/academics/communications/
Elon has their own application which can be found on their website and they are not a Common App school. They offer Early Decision (binding) with a November 1 deadline, Early Action (non-binding) with a November 10 deadline and Regular Decision with a January 10 deadline. They accept either the SAT or the ACT and they super score so it is to your advantage to send all your scores in. In addition to the application and essay, they require a counselor recommendation. I would consider Elon a selective school as they admit 54% of their applicants. From their website, it appears their average ACT is a 27 and average GPA is a 3.4. However, they recalculate your GPA to include just the 5 core subject areas---English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Foreign language.
Elon also offers a unique “Gap Semester” for up to 15 FY students annually. The students and a faculty member travel in the US and abroad for the first semester of college and can earn credit for the experience. They will then start at Elon officially in the winter term. There are also traditional study abroad experiences around the world for all students in addition to Elon NYC and Elon LA opportunities for domestic travel and internships in the US.
I have to be honest, as I toured the campus and saw the many new or renovated buildings, I was dreading finding out the “sticker price” for tuition, housing and fees. I was pleasantly surprised to find out their total cost for 2016-17 is $44,599. Now, maybe this seems like a “deal” because the day before I visited a school that costs over $70,000 a year. However, I do think this cost is incredibly reasonable. The reason they are so reasonable is that they don’t offer huge scholarships-their “discount” is low. While that may be a bummer if you are looking for lots of merit money, I think the lower cost overall is still a better deal.
One of the best things about my visit to Elon was our tour. As the Admission Counselor finished the Information Session, over 20 student tour guides entered the room. They each introduced themselves to the group and told us a little about themselves, major, hometown, etc. Then, they called out the one or two families who were going to be in their tour group. It was evident they had reviewed the interest cards of the students visiting that day and divided them based on their shared interest with the visitors. All the tour groups were small and personalized. My friend and I had 2 tour guides for just us and we later found out the tour guides had been vying to give our tourJ So nice to be wanted! Our tour guides were from Raleigh and Rhode Island. They were both doing research with faculty this summer and one of our guides was a recruited athlete on the track team. Early in my tour, I noticed that there were lots of “acorns” all over campus on the buildings, in publications, etc. I asked our tour guide about this and they promised to explain the symbolism later. When we got to the “older” part of campus, they showed us the area where graduation is held every spring—outside under a canopy of beautiful oak trees. Our tour guides explained that every first-year student receives an acorn as a new student in the fall and four year later (the same amount of time it takes for an acorn to grow into a sapling), they receive a sapling to plant wherever they start their new life after graduation. This was towards the end of the tour and it just really brought home the kind of place Elon is—a place of learning, growth and new beginnings.
While there is a newer and older area of campus, the building and campus contain impressive history that is reflected all over the campus. I sensed a true spirit of community and affection among the tour guides and other staff I met at Elon. The night we arrived in Elon, as we walked back to the Inn after dinner, we struck up a conversation with someone who I later found out was the Dean of the School of Education. She is relatively new to campus but remarked “You will be amazed by these students. They do so much community service both here and away. They are truly special”. If you are a student looking for a great liberal arts college mixed with real-life experience in a beautiful location, Elon is definitely a school to consider.
I Toured Duke University in July and Didn’t Die of Heat Stroke.
A Survival Story by Ms. Kjorstad
After sweating my way through the UNC-Chapel Hill tour (it was July and humidity was about 92%), we trekked over to Duke University. The drive from Chapel Hill to Durham was about 30 minutes and we encountered a fair amount of summer construction. Now, we were racing to make the 2:00 Information Session and Tour at Duke but we still needed to get lunch. There were plenty of fast food options on the way but we didn’t stop because we assumed there would be something on campus. However, once we arrived on campus, we realized most things were closed for summer. The Admission Office directed us to a small sandwich shop in the Duke Gardens which incidentally are beautiful! I imagine that in the fall or winter, it would be a delight to grab a sandwich and enjoy the beautiful gardens. In July, not so much. Unless you have time to meander to the gardens and back, stop for lunch on your way to campus.
I scheduled our visit ahead of time and the confirmation email I received from Duke recommended arriving 30 minutes early. We arrived about 45 minutes ahead of schedule and there were 2 Admissions staff members outside the Admission Office directing us to parking spots. We were able to get a spot right on the driveway but people who arrived later were directed to several different parking lots so be sure to build this into your schedule. The Admission Information Session was held in the same building which was lovely. I thought the Admission presentation was more personable than the UNC session and we watched a short video to get pumped about Duke!
Duke really promotes their location in the Research Triangle as it offers students many research and job opportunities. Duke has 6,846 undergraduates and an 8600 acre campus. The campus is divided into East, Central and West campuses and all first-year students live on East Campus.
East Campus is located 1.5 miles from West Campus and encompasses 97 acres of campus. The self-sufficient East Campus contains the freshman residence halls, a dining hall, coffee shop, post office, library, theater, Brodie Gym and several academic departments. The campus tour did not include East Campus but we drove through as we left campus. It is definitely separate from the rest of campus but I imagine during the school year, it is hopping with activity.
Most of our tour was on the West campus which comprises 720 acres and seems to be the “Main Campus”. The Duke Chapel, Perkins Library and Bryan University Center and much of the upperclassman housing is located here as well. There are seven residential quads for campus housing on West Campus. Duke requires students live on campus for three years and housing is guaranteed for all four years. Duke’s Engineering and Medical schools are both on West Campus too. The Admission Office, the Duke Gardens and the Nasher Museum of Art are on the Central Campus in addition to the recreation facilities and additional housing for upperclassmen.
There are two undergraduate colleges for students at Duke--Trinity College of Arts and Sciences which offers over 50 majors and the Pratt School of Engineering which offers first-year students exploration of engineering and various career tracks in Biomedical, Civil/Environmental, Mechanical/Materials and Computer/Electrical engineering. While there isn’t a “Business” School, students can major in Economics or Finance.
Throughout the Info session, there was an emphasis on the “collaborative” nature of Duke both for undergraduate and graduate students. Students are encouraged to do research with faculty and to volunteer in their community. A unique program offered is called DukeEngage which provides full funding for undergrads who wish to pursue an immersive summer service experience working with a community service site in either the US or abroad. Learn more at http://admissions.duke.edu/experience/engagement
There are also Study Away opportunities in NYC, LA, DC, Silicon Valley, Chicago and Marine Lab in SC--fall, spring or summer. While I have a love/hate relationship with Duke basketball (they routinely ruin my NCAA brackets), this campus does seem to love their Duke sports and students have free admission to all sporting events. However, the line to get tickets for the Duke vs UNC basketball starts about 8 weeks before the game and includes students camping out in tents for weeks. That is being a Super Fan!
Admission to Duke is highly selective—they admit around 11% of all students who apply. They don’t have minimum core requirements but Engineering applicants should have completed both Physics and Calculus in high school. Students can apply using the Common Application or the new Coalition application. In addition to the Common Application essay, there are essays as part of the Duke supplement—Why Duke and if in Engineering, Why Duke Engineering. These essays are very important and students should spend considerable time in preparing the writing supplements.
Students can apply Early Decision (which is binding) by November 1 or Regular Decision by January 1. If students know they can financially manage attending Duke and the school is their number 1 choice, it is statistically advantageous to apply Early Decision as the admit rate is 26% vs 10% for those in the regular admission pool. In addition to the application and essays, they require 2 teacher recommendation letters, a counselor recommendation letter and the ACT or SAT. If students take the writing section of the ACT, they do not need to submit 2 SAT Subject Tests. Duke offers optional alumni interviews but they are not required.
The comprehensive cost for 2016-17 is $70,092. Yikes! Duke is need blind in their review process which means a student’s ability to pay is not considered when reviewing their file for admission. Duke offers need-based financial aid and merit scholarships. The application for admission serves as the scholarship application. More information about financial aid is found here http://admissions.duke.edu/application/aid
After the information session, we headed out into the heat for the 90 minute campus tour. We were told to be sure we had our “I Toured Duke” stickers on so we could get a free drink on the tour but we never stopped anywhere so perhaps this is only offered when school is in session. I brought my own water bottle and filled it up 3 times on the tour—hydration is important! Our tour guide was fabulous and despite the large number of people in our tour group, it felt very personalized. Siblings dragged along for the tour will be excited to learn that there are several Poke Stops on the Duke campus. There was a family from California in my tour group and the youngest sibling was Pokémon Go’ing throughout the tour.
After the tour, we drove around the East Campus and also tried to get a sense of the “town” vibe outside of campus. Ninth Street seems to be the shopping/food area closest to campus. Perhaps there is a vibrant downtown but my tour guide didn’t have much to say about the area around Duke’s campus and I didn’t see much as we were leaving. Duke’s campus was beautiful, the students impressive and the opportunities for student success abundant.
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill—Idyllic even in 90 degree Temps!
by Ms. Kjorstad
In July, I decided Minnesota wasn’t hot or humid enough (insert heavy sarcasm here) so I ventured to North Carolina for a week of college visits. The first school I visited was the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. My traveling partner for this trip was a friend and colleague from another school in the area which was a great way to cut costs. There are lots of hotels in the area of Chapel Hill but we decided to stay at the Carolina Inn which is right on the UNC campus. This was a pricey splurge but every wall of the hotel and our room had historic photos and insight into the history of the campus. They had an excellent breakfast too! Chapel Hill is a delightful “college town” with great food and shopping within walking distance of the campus. The night before our visit, we walked to a delightful restaurant called 411 West. It is an Italian eatery and my meal was spectacular. Another possible spot is Elaine’s on Franklin which we also heard great things about. Now, on to the actual visit!
Let me digress to briefly say that most of the college visits I make are organized counselor tours where my every need is taken care of and I basically have to show up. This was not that kind of visit. I made appointments ahead of time for each of the colleges I visited and so now have a much better understanding of the joy of navigating college visits. If you are visiting UNC, give yourself A LOT OF EXTRA TIME TO GET TO THE INFORMATION SESSION. Even though we were staying very close to the Admission Office according to the map, we struggled to find parking. Luckily, I had a change purse full of quarters so we were able to park about 2 blocks from the Admission Office at a meter. Once we arrived at the Admission Office, we checked in and then were directed to the Information Session which was in a building across campus. Actually, almost right across the street from our hotel. I was not amused. The Information Session had started by the time we arrived and the auditorium was almost full but we managed to find spots right up front. Again, I would suggest you plan to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time to navigate parking and the walk across campus.
UNC was the first Public University in the Nation and is a comprehensive research University. There are 18,000 undergraduates with 70 majors to choose from. All incoming first-year students apply into Arts and Sciences. During the first two years at UNC, students can better explore their major choices by taking general education courses as a foundation before applying into their chosen major. In addition to Arts and Sciences, they also have undergraduate schools of Nursing and Business. UNC has professional schools of Pharmacy, Dentistry and Medicine. For a full list of majors and programs, go to http://admissions.unc.edu/explore/academics/majors-minors-and-concentrations/ Students interested in Biomedical Engineering can pursue this program through a Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering with NC State. UNC doesn’t offer much in the way of Engineering so I recommend students look at North Carolina State instead.
Despite being a large research University, UNC does have options for undergraduates to work with faculty on research. My waitress at 411 West was an undergraduate Neuroscience major who was working with a professor on research related to autistic children. Our presenter in the Information Session talked about the Birch Field Research Seminar in which students backpacked from Yosemite to Sequoia National Forest over six weeks. In fact, about 60% of all UNC undergraduates do research by graduation. Study Abroad is also popular and students regularly take advantage of study abroad at 350 different options around the world and several include research opportunities. There are over 800 student clubs on campus and they are Division I.
Let’s talk about how competitive UNC-Chapel Hill is for admission. About 82% of first-year students are from North Carolina—this is mandated by the legislature. That leaves about 700 spots for students from the rest of the United States and abroad. In the first year class entering this fall, there are 10 students from Minnesota. 10! To say UNC is selective is an understatement. The University is dedicated to holistic review for all applicants.
UNC is a Common App exclusive school which means they do not have their own application. Students apply using the Common Application. In addition to completing the Common App essay, there are two UNC specific short answer questions in the supplemental part of the application. The UNC specific questions are incredibly important so this is not the type of thing students should do quickly. In addition to the writing portion, UNC requires one letter of recommendation from a teacher in a core academic subject area and an official ACT OR SAT score. UNC “super scores” so it can be helpful to send all of your ACT or SAT scores and not just your highest score. They do not consider the SAT or ACT writing section scores in the admission process. According to the Admission presenter, they do not put emphasis on GPA and class rank. As far as activities, they are looking for students to discuss the IMPACT of their activities-- not the NUMBER of activities. There are no required interviews so the essays are the primary way for the admission staff to get to know applicants. The application for admission also serves as the application for scholarships. The Early Action (non-binding) application deadline is October 15. Students who apply early-action will have an admission decision by October 15. The regular application deadline is January 15 and students will hear a decision by the end of March.
Students who plan to apply for need-based financial aid must complete the FAFSA (Free application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile by March 1 in order to be considered for need-based aid. UNC outcomes speak for themselves—they have a 96% retention rate (incredible!) which means 96% of their first-year students return for their sophomore year and 90% of their students graduate within 5 years. The median salary for a UNC graduate is $50,400.
After the Information Session, we broke into tour groups. I think there were about 25 people in my tour group so it was big group tour. The tour lasted about 90 minutes so be aware of this if you are planning to visit other schools on the same day. We actually had to leave before the end of our tour to get on the road for our afternoon college visit. The campus map was helpful in assisting us to navigate back to our car so be sure to take this with you! Next up: Duke University.
This is a long blog post, but worth the read if you are interested in Vanderbilt University!
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY VISIT
April 6-8, 2016
I was fortunate to be invited as the only Minnesota counselor represented on the Vanderbilt Counselor Conference this April. There were 85 counselors from all states and many foreign countries. On the tour, they showed us the campus, Nashville, student life and we were able to meet and talk to many students on campus.
There are many hotels surrounding the Vanderbilt campus, so easily walkable from any hotel. When we first arrived on the campus, we had an introduction of the admission staff and an introduction to Vanderbilt. There are about 7,000 undergraduate students on the Vanderbilt campus. Vanderbilt has 12,567 total enrollment. Students will apply to one of four colleges, but can take classes in all four (in fact that is very common and almost every student I met on campus was cross enrolled in various courses). Ninety-five percent of all courses are taught by faculty. They have over 530 student organizations. They are 100% residential all four years.
Vanderbilt is located in Nashville – there is a lot to do! The medical campus and hospital are connected to campus, so there is an urban city feel surrounding campus. Vanderbilt students are very self-sufficient. I met many students that discussed their summer plans as, “I knew I wanted to do something in this area (insert company, major, interest, etc.) so I called them up and asked if they had a summer position available.” Most students at Vanderbilt aren’t using the career services, even though they exist, they just take care of their goals on their own. Another student I met, finishing his sophomore year in engineering, knew he wanted to work in space/aeronautical engineering so he called his company of choice, Lockheed Martin, and ended up with a summer internship with them.
Admissions and Financial Aid
They are need blind in admission, except for international students. If students are admitted, they will meet 100% of need for all students without loans. There are merit scholarships available. They are a separate application through MyAppVu. The deadline is December 1, priority deadline is December 15. They make decisions on March 1. This is not in time for Early Decision candidates – they cannot count on this helping them financially. Forty percent of students in class are students of color and 8% are international. Five percent of assets are considered for either parents or students. There is an appeals process for financial aid. Students need to write a letter and add information that was not included on the Profile or the FAFSA that might be affecting the numbers that are on these forms. Students and parents can also call and discuss their award with the financial aid office. Eleven percent of the students that apply will be admitted. The middle 50% SAT is 1590-1430 (Critical Reading and Math); middle 50% ACT is 35-32. Vanderbilt does not Super score the ACT but will Supers core the SAT. No writing is required for either test.
When students are reviewed for admission, they will be considered with academics – curriculum, testing, etc. and then on a personal rating – what has the student done outside the classroom – how and to what does the student contribute their time and talents. Also, students can’t switch their major throughout the entire first year at Vanderbilt – admission will also be looking at the quality of the ‘school fit’. ‘How well does the student match to their school of choice?’ Peabody (School of Education) and Blair (School of Music) admit students to their particular major area of interest, i.e. Special Education. Arts and Science and Engineering will not be admitted to their specific area of interest right away.
Vanderbilt (as all selective schools) will look at everything students submit to them. They are looking particularly for signs of inquisitive mind, analytical thinking, innovative ideas, entrepreneurial spirit, collaborative attitude, strategic thinking, service oriented, problem solver, and natural leaders.
They do not use demonstrated interest in the admission process, but do consider it for waitlisted candidates.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship: Deadline December 15 – look at: academic achievement, involvement in extra activities, 50-60 of the first year students will receive it. It is a full tuition merit scholarship with a summer stipend. Can still get need based aid to cover other expenses, if you qualify for it.
Ingram Scholarship: Deadline December 1. 10 – 12 First year students will receive it. 50 students total on campus. Service to community is a huge part of this scholarship. Full tuition and summer stipend included. Students need two letters of recommendation that highlight their service.
Chancellor Scholarship: 20-25 first year students receive it. This scholarship is based on students building a strong school community. It is full-tuition.
You will hear the admission and financial aid offices speak about Opportunity Vanderbilt often. This is Vanderbilt’s financial commitment to meet a student’s financial need without loans. The do not consider need (or ability to pay) in their admission decisions. Vanderbilt will meet a 100% of a family’s demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. To learn more, visit vu.ed/finaid.
The Peabody College is the College of Education and Human and Organizational Development. The Peabody College is ranked #2 in the country for programs in Education. They have a diverse and amazing program in Special Education, Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary education and you will be done in four years. One of the biggest programs in the college (I heard MANY students mention this program as a major or double major) is the Human and Organizational Development. It is a program for students interested in careers that involve finding solutions to human problems in organizations and communities. Graduates find jobs in business, government, and non-profits. There is a required internship in the program and there are opportunities to complete the internship program abroad, if desired. There are 1500 students in this college. They are admitted to their specific major. The graduate school is the #1 graduate school of education in the country. The undergraduate education program is always in the top 5, often the top one. They have faculty who do extensive research and study on education policy. The peers in classes with you will be important to the experience at Vanderbilt and Peabody. The largest major is Human Organization Development. They have four licensure programs: special ed, secondary, elementary, and early childhood. Students will be immersed in an educational setting right away in the 1st year. First three years of the program have practica built in to the study. Senior year, students student teach. 70% of the graduates go into the classroom right after graduation. Twenty-five percent go to graduate school. The Human and Organizational Development has an internship component built into the program.
College of Arts and Science
This is the college where most students will find their area of study: art, science, English, politics. I found on my visit that many of the students are majoring in cross disciplines. They may have two different majors from two different areas in the college. There are 4000 students in this college. They have six categories of classes: math/science, international cultures, perspectives, U. S. culture, human and creative arts, and social science. All students have to complete these areas in 7 different departments, have two writing components, and foreign language (they can test out of this). Every first year student in Arts and Sciences is undecided. They can’t declare until sophomore year. There is lots of opportunity for advising by major, by minor, by pre-professional area, etc. Students may have three different advisors depending on what their major/minor is.
There is an experiential learning requirement. Sixty percent of students are already doing this, but for 2018, it will be required. Experiential learning can be study abroad, research, creative arts or another experiential option that they may discover.
College of Engineering
It is the oldest private engineering program in the country. They have 9 majors and a third of the students are women. There are 1500 students in this program. This college and program is for students that want engineering, but want more out of their college experience than just engineering. Students will work on information technology, healthcare, and environment – something important to the world. They will be opening a new engineering school in the fall of 2016. They have about 29 programs for engineers to study abroad. About 24% of the students in the engineering program actually study abroad. 99% of freshmen return to engineering as sophomores.
Blair School of Music
There are only 200 students in this program and no graduate students. Students receive a Bachelor’s of Music degree. They only have undergraduate students. They offer 250-300 different performances every year. Ensembles and productions are open to all students. Most music students do go on to Master’s programs in music.
My Awesome Visit to Hope College
Visit: April 1, 2016
First, I LOVED this campus. Hope College is a liberal arts college in Holland, Michigan. I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan, from Minneapolis. Grand Rapids is about a thirty minute drive from Holland. Otherwise, you might be able to get a cheaper flight to Chicago and there is an Amtrak station two blocks from campus. You can see it from the Athletic Complex. There are a couple of hotels around campus to make it easy to navigate the campus and the town without a car.
My visit to campus was in conjunction with their April Junior Visit Day. So, I followed the schedule on their normal event. They offer everyone that visits an opportunity to choose what is most important to them. We began the day with an introduction in the huge basketball arena. Hope is a Division III school with great athletic success in many sports. Often they are contenders in the Division III championships in different sports.
We were divided into two groups and we walked across campus to meeting rooms where we met with a student panel. There were six students on the panel with diverse majors and interests. Almost all the students were involved in some kind of research in their major – from art history, to education, to science they were all getting experience doing research in their field. Two of the students were athletes and they were more than able to balance student life and their athletic life. One of the students on the panel was a pre-med major and already knew he was admitted to medical school and would be going straight to med school in the fall. Hope is a Christian college, so the students talked a little about that too. There are many student groups around bible studies, service and chapel. However, one student talked about how she chose Hope for this aspect and then arrived on campus and did not attend chapel, or anything else around her faith for the first two years she was on campus. She shared she never felt pressure or guilt from other students for not participating. She said it is open and offered, but not forced on anyone.
Hope is a campus of around 3400 undergraduate students. It is a Christian college, so I noticed there was Christian music playing in the cafeteria. Chapel is offered every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 am and lasts 25 minutes. It is a time to come together as a community for music and reflection. There were a few hundred visitors on campus the same day as me. Chapel was packed – standing room only. I heard many students say, “wow, it is really crowded today.” So, although I think many students attend chapel when offered, I am not sure it is standing room only at every service.
After service, I went on a tour of campus. They have lots of different housing options on campus. The one I saw for freshmen was a pod, with six rooms (of 2-3 students each) surrounding a common living area and a shared bathroom. It looked like a really fun homey atmosphere. They have a main dining hall on campus with lots of food options (even for dietary restrictions) and other smaller grab and go places to eat too. The academic buildings were kept nice and up to date. The science/engineering facilities looked brand new. I attended an information session on engineering and they are a small department, but offer almost every area of engineering you can think of (biomedical, civil, electrical, mechanical). They have a Formula One Racing team that competes every year. They also have an active Engineers without Borders – they have a six year commitment on a project overseas and they send a team every year. They have a lot of one-on-one attention with their faculty members. I also attended a session on health majors. They have nursing and outstanding pre-health advising, particularly around pre-med. Lots of connections in local area for hospitals and clinics.
When the day’s visit was complete, I walked a few blocks through their downtown area. It was great! There were lots of fun cafés and restaurants and shops to experience, just blocks from campus. Our Hope College representative drove me 15 minutes from campus so I could see Holland State Park, which is right on Lake Michigan. Lots of fun opportunities for students off campus.
Stats: 95% of graduates were employed or in graduate school 6 months after graduation.
Check out Hope College -- it is a great place!
The University of Texas at Dallas---An Undiscovered Gem!
Howdy y’all! Ms. Kjorstad visited The University of Texas at Dallas a few weeks ago as a guest to learn more about the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program at UTD. You are now thinking “I have NEVER heard of this school before” which is a natural reaction. In 1961, the founders of Texas Instruments (including Eugene McDermott) established Southwest Center for Advanced Studies to encourage more people to consider technology careers and this became the University of Texas at Dallas in 1969, serving primarily graduate students with the hope of becoming “The MIT of the West”. In 1990, the school began to admit Freshmen and ten years later, Eugene McDermott’s widow, Margaret McDermott, donated $32 million to start the McDermott Scholars program at UT-Dallas which centers on student excellence in intellectual achievement, leadership, service and character. Her goal then and now (at the spry age of 104) is to identify the best leaders from around the country and remove any financial barriers to their success in college.
This scholarship is one of the most generous I have ever seen! The McDermott Scholarship covers UT Dallas tuition and fees during fall, spring and summer semesters. Scholars are awarded $1000 book stipend each year to cover fall and spring textbooks and receive a $50 stipend per class, up to four classes for the summer semester. During the freshmen year, the scholarship covers full room and board and provides first year students with $400 month for personal expenses. For the sophomore, junior and senior year Scholars receive $1400 month to pay their room, board and personal expenses. Scholars receive up to $12,000 in study abroad funding and up to $3,000 for professional development, academic conferences and post-program funding. The Scholars are also given funds to pay for round trip travel home twice per year in addition to cohort travel to Santa Fe, NM, Austin, TX and Washington DC covered for Scholars events. Finally, Scholars receive free tickets to the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and other cultural experiences each year.
This is an incredibly competitive scholarship and McDermott Scholars applicants must have a 33 ACT or 1550 on the 2-part SAT plus have very strong grades in a rigorous high school curriculum. Students must apply and be admitted to the University of Texas at Dallas and complete the McDermott Scholars application as well. The early deadline for the McDermott application is November 3, 2016 and the regular deadline is January 4, 2017. Students need two teacher recommendations plus a counselor recommendation for the McDermott Scholarship. Scholarship Finalists and one parent will be flown to the UTD campus March 3-5, 2017 to interview for the program and decisions are released in April. In addition to the McDermott Scholars program, UTD has very generous awards for National Merit Finalists—Full tuition and mandatory fees for four years, $4,000 cash stipend per semester, $1500 on-campus housing stipend and up to $6,000 study abroad stipend. There are more National Merit finalists at UTD than all of the other 8 University of Texas schools.
UTD is a Division III school with 13 varsity sports and a competitive Cheer/Dance team. Their undergraduate schools include Arts and Humanities; Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication; School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences; School of Engineering and Computer Science; Interdisciplinary Studies; Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; School of Management and School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
There has been incredible growth on this campus and they have moved from being considered a “commuter campus” to having 5 first-year residence halls and many on-campus apartments for students—most of which have been built in the last five years. The McDermott Scholars have a blog that can give you great insight to the students and the unique experiences they have had over their time at UTD. The blog address is https://mcdermottscholars.wordpress.com/ I was amazed and impressed by the students I met over my two day visit to UTD. After graduation, 37% of McDermott Scholars go on to Master’s or Ph.D. programs, 26% go to Medical or Law School and 37% go directly into the workforce. The list of schools these students attend for Master’s, Ph.D.’s, Law and Medical schools are quite impressive and include the most selective schools in the country.
I think UTD and the McDermott Scholar’s Program can offer students a tremendous education at an incredibly low cost. Any students who want to learn more should see Ms. Kjorstad or go online for a virtual tour at http://www.utdallas.edu/virtualtour/
College Portfolios are due soon!
Ms. Kjorstad hosted a Portfolio Workshop for juniors that had questions and wanted help with their porfolios that are due on April 20th. All juniors are required to have six pieces in their portfolios (get out your folders from College Planning Day for all the information):
- A written 1-2 page essay
- A completed scholarship or admission application of your choice
- Your Do What You Are report
- The college search assignment and information page on one college
- A job shadow or interview
- and An Activities Resume
We will be offering another Porfolio Workshop on April 13 during the PLC period, 7:30 - 8:15 am. If you want to attend, you need to sign up in advance and get a pass. Let us know if you have any questions!
Here I am in front of the chapel at Creighton. Creighton is a Catholic, Jesuit institution.
- Creighton has a little over a 1,000 students in each undergraduate class, so they are a size in between 4-5,000. They also have 4-5,000 professional/graduate students on their campus.
- They are typically looking for students with a 3.5-4.0 and a 24-30 ACT. Ave ACT=27
Edge Scholars is a leadership/career development program for undecided students and students in a traditional liberal arts major. In the program students will understand discernment, career exploration, professional development and skills growth. It is a four year program that starts the first semester freshman year. Students explore occupational options and learn the basics of career preparedness while practically applying skills in networking and professional development. Students are also eligible to receive a $1000 study abroad scholarship as a participant in the program.
All students are eligible to access the EDGE at Creighton – includes specific major pre-advising, but also academic tutoring, academic coaching (things like time management and study skills), learning communities, and career and professional development.
- Creighton has over 200 clubs and a campus community of 4,000 undergrads and 4,000 graduate students. Creighton gives preference to their students for their graduate schools.
- Creighton has a 97% success rate for graduates. Six months after graduation, 97% of their graduates were either employed, in graduate school or participating in a full-time volunteer program.
- 56% of students at Creighton have at least one internship.
- 32% of students are engaged in some sort of research project from health care to economics.
- The Edge also has step by step instructions for pre-health and pre-dental students for what they should do each term of each year to be prepared for the application processes for medical/dental school.
EDGE Pre-Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Pharmacy and Pre-Physical Therapy Learning Communities
As stated above, Edge is a support program for specific majors and academic success skills and much more. Creighton has Edge programs set up for specific majors as learning communities. These are mostly in the health related majors – Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy are examples. In these learning communities, students learn more about the profession, as well as get information about being a competitive applicant to graduate school in these fields. Some recent programming was around interviewing, application workshops, panels of speakers, and helping students develop their own individual plan for successful application to each of these professional schools.
Pre-Health Profession students are evaluated on academic and personal qualifications considered necessary to complete grad school and be a successful professional as an occupational therapist or any of these other fields. In addition, an applicant’s education, work experiences, honors, awards, service to others, and leadership activities will serve to provide insight into a candidate’s commitment to lifelong learning and doctoral-level education. It is recommended that prospective students for OTD or DPT spend time observing occupational therapists at work in their communities. For Physical Therapy students, they are advised to spend 60 hours shadowing current physical therapists at work. The Edge Learning Communities in Pre-Health majors will be assisting all students in their particular health areas of interest. I have just listed Occupational Therapy, Pharmacy and Physical Therapy as examples.
Curas is a an office that coordinates research (in all areas) and scholarship. They have many different honors and scholars programs that offer funding to students to do research. In traditional science areas, but also met a student doing research in the classics and in art history and anthropology. All said faculty were accessible and amazing at helping students. They have a research fair in the fall.
Heider College of Business
All Business students are required to participate in the Career Portfolio Program. The Career Portfolio Program provides Heider College of Business students with an integrated and direct approach to the career development process. This program consists of assessments, workshops, networking events with employers and business professionals, career fairs, and mentorship opportunities to help students reach their career goals, enhance their professionalism, and transition successfully into the workplace.
- Concentration in International Business: Students have to study a foreign language and are encouraged to double major. Also, International Business majors have to study abroad at least one semester.
- Economics major is a part of the business school.
- Management Track will encourage students to be involved in experiential learning like the iJay Practicum, which is running the only Mac store on a college campus or the Straight Shot, which is a local business incubator that provides the students the unique opportunity to learn from Omaha community mentors right on campus.
Creighton Assurance Program
Creighton offers a program designed for high school students interested in early admission to the Creighton University Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Students must apply to Creighton before January 15, have a minimum GPA of 3.5 or higher, minimum ACT of 25 or higher, one year of chemistry with at least a B, Math ACT has to be 24 or higher, and successful completion of an introductory admission interview demonstrating strong communication/interpersonal skills and expressing appropriate rationale fro the study and practice of pharmacy.
Students work hard and play hard at Creighton. They love their Bluejays. Students are often in Creighton Bluejay apparel. Their big sports are soccer (they have a beautiful new stadium) and basketball. I was fortunate to see them play Xavier while I was visiting. A great game that Creighton won!
Do you want more information? Come and see me if you want to discuss the campus. Ms. Kjorstad actually attended Creighton and would love to talk with you about her school!
It's not too late to file the FAFSA
SENIORS: IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO COMPLETE THE FAFSA
While January is the start of FAFSA season, it’s not too late to get yours completed. Here are some tips to make the process easier.
1. You can’t get aid if you don’t apply. Some students and families believe that their income is too high, so they don’t even apply. Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial assistance, regardless of income.
2. Timing is important. While students may actually submit the FAFSA later in the year, state and college financial aid programs may have earlier cutoff dates. If students delay, they could miss out on first-come, first-served money for college. Apply today!
3. A little prep goes a long way. Students should gather necessary information before they start the FAFSA: their Social Security and driver’s license numbers, their parents’ Social Security numbers and birth dates, 2015 income tax returns, W-2 forms, and bank statements.
4. Just because it says FAFSA, doesn’t mean it is FAFSA. Beware of scams. There are websites with FAFSA in their name that charge processing fees — and they certainly aren’t official. The “F” in FAFSA stands for FREE. The only site to use for getting an FSA ID and submitting the FAFSA is FAFSA.gov.
5. Changes are ahead. This is the last year for the January starting date. For the 2017-2018 academic year, students will be able to file starting October 1, 2016. Plus, they’ll be able to use their family’s 2015 tax return.
For more tips and updates about FAFSA, visit SallieMae.com/FAFSA.
Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do for college financial aid. It’s what schools use to put together your financial aid package, including grants, work-study, and federal loans. Some people don’t submit one because they think they won’t qualify. But there’s no income cut-off to qualify for financial aid. And a lot of other factors are taken into consideration. So, don’t assume you won’t qualify. Fill it out! Visit www.salliemae.com/fafsa.
The FAFSA is Open!
If you are a senior, you can begin to apply for financial aid at your colleges by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is available at this website: fafsa.gov. In order to fill out the FAFSA, you will need a FAFSA ID. You and your parents will need an ID to electronically sign the FAFSA form. You can get an ID at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/fsaid. If you have any questions, see your college counselor. Also feel free to contact the Financial Aid office at any of the colleges to which you applied. Their expertise is financial aid and they are able to answer any question you might have.
What's happening now in the College and Career Center?
We have started our individual junior college planning meetings. These meetings are scheduled to begin the conversation about the college process over the next year. The meeting letters were mailed to all junior families on December 18. If you did not receive your letter, please contact your college counselor, Ann Kjorstad (students A-L) or Tina Proctor (students M-Z).
It's been a busy fall!
Ms. Kjorstad and Mrs. Proctor have had a very busy fall! We have completed many, many individual meetings with seniors working on applications and we have met with almost all the new freshmen. We have written many, many letters of recommendation and sent transcripts and teacher letters for 800 different transcript requests from our seniors. We are looking forward to a relaxing winter break -- which I am sure our students are looking forward to as well. Yesterday we sent an email to seniors (and their parents, if there was an email in our Family Connection system) to remind them the College and Career Center will be closed over Christmas break. Any transcript requests needed up to January 15 deadlines should be in the student's Family Connection system right now. Also remember all test scores need to be ordered through ACT or SAT to be sent to specific colleges. If you have any questions, please see your college counselor immediately. We hope all our families have a relaxing and wonderful Christmas!
Student Meeting Notes . . . .
We are finishing our freshmen meetings. We enjoyed getting to know you and your families! If you missed your scheduled freshman meeting, please contact your college counselor to reschedule: Ann Kjorstad (students A-L) or Tina Proctor (students M-Z).
Transfer families: If you did not schedule a transfer student meeting with your college counselor, we would still like to meet with you too -- please contact your counselor to schedule a time.
Junior families: We haven't forgotten about you! As we are finishing our freshmen meetings, we will be turning to getting our individual junior family meetings scheduled. We will have a letter in the mail to you regarding your meeting day and time before Christmas break. Meetings begin after the New Year and continue throughout Tri 2.
Ms. Kjorstad and Mrs. Proctor would like to wish all our students and families a very happy Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for the opportunity to work with and get to know such AMAZING students! We both feel very blessed. Enjoy the long weekend and catch up on your sleep. See you in Tri 2!
A couple of announcements.
Seniors: We are almost caught up with the current transcript requests in our system. Have you submitted transcript requests yet? Still not sure how to do it? Remember Ms. Kjorstad and Mrs. Proctor are here to help with the process. We are hosting an application workshop from 7:30 am to 8:15 am on November 18th -- it is during the PLC. Get a pass from the College and Career Center before that morning to assure you will be able to get through the hallways during the PLC period. Bring your computer and Mrs. Proctor will be available for ANY senior who just wants to sit and complete applications. This way if there are any questions that come up during the time you are filling out the application, you have a college counselor right there to help.
Freshmen: We have enjoyed our freshmen meetings with you and your parents. If you are a freshman that did not attend their initial meeting time and needs to reschedule, stop by the College and Career Center or email Ms. Kjorstad (students A-L) or Mrs. Proctor (students M-Z) to reschedule. We look forward to meeting you!
While you were enjoying your summer break, Ms. Kjorstad visited three colleges in Montana on a counselor tour. She slept in the residence halls, wore shower shoes to the bathroom and tried the food on several college campuses. She also explored the cities of Missoula, Helena and Bozeman and enjoyed a day in Yellowstone National Park. For her first campus visit blog, she is focusing on the University of Montana in Missoula.
University of Montana, Missoula, Montana
I was able to fly directly into Missoula, Montana on a Delta Airlines direct flight and then headed to the campus. The first thing I noticed about Missoula is how close the mountains seem—the campus is basically in a valley right beneath them and there is a lovely river running through the town. I flew in Saturday afternoon and the counselor tour didn’t start until Monday. I walked from campus to downtown several times a day and it took maybe 15 minutes each way. There are excellent restaurants in Missoula but I highly recommend the Big Dipper Ice Cream shop which is close to campus. Missoula has a population of 68,000 and the town has an excellent relationship with the University. The weather was pretty warm while I was there but the nights definitely cool down. Don’t forget your sunscreen and drink lots of water!
University of Montana has about 12,000 undergraduates with a broad range of programs. We visited several departments and learned about some of their strengths. There isn’t a Medical School in Montana but U of Montana’s graduates have a 65-80% admit rate to Medical School. Their Journalism School is 101 years old, has the newest building on campus, students in the major have 1/3 of credits outside of Journalism and a required internship. Students majoring in TV have a newscast that is run by local affiliate. The Faculty motto for the program is "Keeping up with the times and staying cutting edge"
Strong students should consider applying for the Davidson Honors College which is housed in a beautiful building and enrolls about 700 students a year. When students apply for admission, they are automatically considered for Davidson Honors College and competitive students usually have a 3.5 gpa and 27 ACT. In their first year, students take specialized classes with honors faculty only--2 courses plus choices from over 50 specialized options.
School of Health Professions and Biological Sciences includes a Bachelor’s in Social Work, Doctorate in PT and Pharmacy. The school boasts 100% placement in PT and Pharmacy.
College of Education and Human Sciences: Exercise Science is VERY strong, Neuroscience, Education focuses on gifted, early interventions and they think of selves as P-20 education practitioners. Communicative disorders and Exercise Science have 100% placement rate.
School of Business offers 6 majors, one minor and 6 certificates and is ASBA certified with additional certification for Accounting. Emphasis in the School of Business is on experiential learning and professionalism training. Lots of career development and internships and they welcome hundreds of recruiters and employers to campus every year.
The Office for Student Success is home to students who are undecided about their major. Exploratory Studies is common among first-year students to give students a sense of majors available.
The school has a College of Forestry and Conservation--all about conserving and protecting natural resources. Very interdisciplinary opportunities and 97% of alums are in Graduate School or employed--85% in their major. 95% of seniors in this school have done at least one internship. Many of their graduates (67%) go into public sector jobs and have had field experiences with Glacier, Yellowstone, Nature Conservancy, etc.
Humanities and Sciences-largest college with 23 departments, 43 disciplines. Multilingual students are common. Astronomy and Physics doing great things with undergrads! Funds to help students study abroad are available.
College of Visual and Performing arts---great place for majors and non-majors. Majors are available in Music, media arts, dance, and theater. J.K. Simmons and Carroll O'Connor are graduates of their theater programs
Music school offers BA in Instrumental Jazz and an Opera Program--national Opera Assn winner for Opera of the Year. Theater includes the Montana Repertory Theater which tours around the country. Dance department is small but have made it to American Dance Competition at Kennedy Center 2 out of 4 past years. Entertainment Management program is a unique program as well.
Life on campus:
Health Center: counseling, dental and medical services are available. Also offer clinical and preventative measures. 75 staff members and 36 are professional practitioners. 8 visits at$15 per visit and the. If they are in need if additional support outside of campus, they can be referred but it depends in the student.
Residential Dining: big farm-college program. All beef is from MT. Lots of gluten free options and offerings for students with special dietary issues. Galloping Grizz food truck set up for late night food Thursday-Sunday. The school garden provides the dining hall with 2400 pounds of food.
Residence Life: capacity in 9 residence halls is 2400 students. All first-years are required to live on campus. Lewis and Clark Village offers 2 and 3 bedroom apartments but you rent your room from the school. Area Coordinators live on campus and to supervise student staff. Living learning programs are growing--at 5 right now. All halls have wireless internet.
Campus Recreation: want students to try new things! Freshman Wilderness Experience before school starts, adventure and rentals available. NO car needed to get around.
Greek life: Rush is first 2 weeks of school for sororities, fraternities are year-round. 500 students in Greek Life--lots of campus leaders.
New undergraduate major starting this fall--PhD in neuro training program, neuro research programs and fellowships and K-12 outreach partnerships ( funded by National Institute of Health)
BS in Neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and BS in Neuro , Cellular and molecular tracks to create this major, they only had to create 3 classes as everything else came from existing courses.
Careers in medicine, academia, research companies, patent law, science writing and journalism, speech pathology, robotics, GES sees 25% growth in this career path.
2.5 GPA, 22 ACT math,
Self-reported transcript, no letters of rec, no essays.
AP score of 3 for credit
Apply for housing----$225 deposit, $200 refundable by June 1 should do sooner rather than later...Presidential leadership Scholarship is only scholarship students need to apply for by Dec. 31 tuition--$23,127 and Room and Board is $8800, total cost is $31,533
Scholarships for Marching Band!
Already accepting applications but won't really review until October 1. Hope for a five day turnaround.
I LOVED the students who spoke on the Student Panel. One student from Oregon mentioned she thought she met more out of state students than in state students. No issues with being away from home/feeling like you are alone. Both the juniors on the panel knew a Career Service person by name and RAVED about her. Someone brought up the book “Missoula” by Jon Krakauer that came out last spring and discusses campus sexual assault. There were excellent student responses from all female panelists about safety on campus and their awareness of changes even in the last year.
In summary—I loved this campus and really hope more AHA students will consider it in the future. A true gem of a place!