38 Minutes

38 Minutes is about the time it takes to complete a yoga dvd to practice the cello to prepare a pasta dinner to give the dog a really good walk to write a good blog post And (according to Counseling and College Counseling In America’s High Schools by Professor Patricia M. McDonough UCLA Department of EducationUniversity of California,  January 2005 ) 38 minutes is about the average amount of time that high school students meet with their guidance counselors to discuss the college selection process.  Yes, you read that correctly, 38 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, there are many dedicated, smart, and knowledgeable high school guidance counselors all over the United States.  But they are trying to hold back the tide. According to the most recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics Study: High School Guidance Counseling, the average ratio of students to guidance counselors in the United States is 315 students per 1 guidance counselor.   These are already impossible ratios.  With the challenging fiscal realities school districts are currently facing, these ratios are not going to get any better.  In fact, they will probably get worse. A public education at a SUNY (State University of New York) 4-year institution can cost more than $80,000 for four years and a private education can cost more than $200,000 for four years.  Families should invest more time exploring higher education and professional options than they do watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy each week. By spending time, effort, and some money, you and your student will have an action plan which considers academic, professional, and affordability goals.  We encourage students and families to spend time upfront during the exploration phase of the college selection process so that they are focused on where to apply and poised to make great decisions about where to...
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March Madness and College Admissions

If you are a college-bound high school senior, March Madness has taken on a new meaning this year.  In the world of college admissions, March Madness means the waiting game is finally over.  Millions of anxious high seniors around the country are receiving their letters of acceptance or denial.  Along with the acceptance letters will be information regarding the financial aid award. As we all know the cost of higher education increases at a maddening pace and many decisions about where to attend rest in the hands of the financial aid offices.  To assist with the cost of attending college, students seek the assistance of outside private scholarships. We advise students to start their search locally. Many high schools across the country award scholarships in the spring of a student’s senior year.  Students can often apply to these local scholarships by completing a short form in their college guidance office.  Many of those deadlines are fast approaching so if you haven’t already done so get to your guidance office ASAP!  Parents can always make a call to the guidance office or check the high school’s web site for more information. If you are a member of Capital Communications Federal Credit Union you should check out  page 14 of the March/April  Lines of Communication Newsletter or email Theresa Petrone at [email protected] to get all the facts on applying for the Weidner “Ed” Davis Scholarship. CapCom awards this $2500 scholarship to fifteen students! Good...
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We have busted the myths, now some facts

Admissions facts that stand the test of time. 1.      There are no guarantees. Even if you have a perfect score on the SAT or the ACT along with a 4.0 GPA–you are not guaranteed a place at your first choice institution.  Look at this example: 83% of high school valedictorians that applied to Princeton University in 2010 were rejected (see Princeton’s data here).  That is a hard fact! 2.      Critical and changing unknowns. Schools have their own agenda.  Their goal is to populate a community.  Remember, this is not just a numbers game.  Admissions is a balance of selecting students who fit the academic profile of the school and will bring to campus a rich variety of academic and co-curricular interests.  Applicants cannot possibly know what a school is looking for over time.  For example, a school might have just decided to increase biology majors or received a grant to increase the number of cellists.  As you can see the list can go on and change all the time. 3.      Competitive process. Remember all those valedictorians applying to Princeton?  Talk about competition.  Additionally, more students are applying to more schools (colleges) which increases the competition at all schools.  Many of our clients’ parents are surprised to learn how competitive the New York State system (SUNY) of colleges and universities have become.  It is not your parents SUNY any more! 4.      Costly investment–you know this.  The cost of higher education increases every year.  This is a big investment in your future.  You will spend a lot of time and money on your undergraduate education.  It makes sense to spend some time exploring your options and making good choices. Because there are many critical facts about the college selection process that applicants cannot control, we advise focusing on the things you can control.  It makes sense to spend time exploring your academic, professional, and co-curricular interests during your sophomore and junior year of high school.  Find out what you want out of your undergraduate education.  This effort will help you to focus and engage in the college selection process. 5. The pay off is priceless–if you spend time, effort, and possibly some money now during the exploration phase–you will reap the benefits of this investment when you are completing your applications. This will allow you to focus on the schools to which you will ultimately apply.  And once your hear back from schools you will be in a better position to compare your options and make the best decision for you. Let the exploration...
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Sage College of Albany

Sage College of Albany (SCA) is a gem in the heart of New York’s capital city.  You might know that SCA is one half of a two-campus community that make up the Sage Colleges.  However, that is only the tip of the iceberg with SCA.  While the Albany campus has a cozy feel, the co-educational campus of approximately 1200+ students has a host of pre-professional programs such as graphic and interior design and business.  The SCA also has a strong fine arts program and is host to the Sage After Work program and a string of the colleges graduate programs such as Management/Business and Community Psychology.  The professors and administrators on this intimate campus know the students which builds community, accountability, and student engagement in their academic, co-curricular, and professional lives. What struck us on our visit and tour of the campus was student accessibility to all that SCA has to offer.  Our contact and guide during our visit, Paige Collins an Assistant Director of Admissions, made it clear that SCA’s commitment is to develop students who are well-prepared for careers in their chosen field.  That sense of  commitment spills over into the daily lives of the professors and administrators in a way that only can happen on a small campus where students, staff, and faculty meet in and out of class. While the Sage Colleges are set on two distinct campuses with different offerings, students have access to much more than they might at a single campus.  Students can use the free shuttle service between the colleges to attend classes, events, or to explore the sister cities.  The other half to the Sage Colleges puzzle is the Russell Sage Campus located in downtown Troy.  This women-only undergraduate program has a traditional liberal arts bent plus a number of professional programs such as Physical Therapy and Nursing.  (Please note, the linked Physical Therapy program is available to students at either undergraduate campus while the graduate portion is based on the Troy campus only).  The RC campus is also home to many of Sage College’s graduate programs.  We will venture across the Hudson to visit this campus soon (stay tuned for more information). SCA is a private school with a steep cost of attendance.  Sage boasts merit-based scholarship aid to qualified students which can slash the price tag for some students.  Sage is also rightly proud of its financial aid...
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Syracuse University: Breadth, Depth, and great basketball!

We thought we knew Syracuse University before our visit.  After all, we were aware that many of the Orangemen’s (and women’s) athletic teams are nationally ranked Division I programs, the Carrier Dome hosts exciting college basketball and lacrosse games plus concerts and events, and the campus spends much of the academic year under a blanket of snow and ice.  What we found out from our recent visit to SU was that our knowledge only scratched the surface.  Our trip opened our eyes to the diverse academic, social and extracurricular opportunities that abound on campus and within the Syracuse’s city limits. All of the above combine to make Syracuse University a college worth considering for many high school students in the college admissions process. Syracuse’s numbers tell about its large size and many academic opportunities.  The university has close to 12,000 undergraduates, studying 200 different majors at nine undergraduate schools.  Despite these numbers, the campus is compact giving the school a small college environment.   Students find their academic home to be more manageably sized (e.g., the school of Architecture has only 400 students and the School of Education has just 350.)  Many prospective students will graduate from a high school class that is larger! Even within the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest of the colleges, the major departments offer a cozier academic home.  Academically the university offers a vast array of majors. The many and varied professional programs allows all students to begin thinking about their career goals and aspirations at the start of their undergraduate career.  Most students will have internships in their chosen field before graduation in addition to taking courses which are hands-on technical preparation for the many careers to which SU students aspire.   The most well known undergraduate professional program on the campus is the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Many of its alumni are well-known broadcasters such as Steve Croft of CBS’ 60 minutes and Bob Costas of NBC and HBO. Another large part of Syracuse is the financial commitment students and families must make to attend.  The full cost of attendance for one year is nearly $48,000.  The university, however, has also made a financial commitment to the students and (according to the Admissions Officer leading our Information Session) will meet the full financial need of all incoming students for class entering in the Fall 2009.  Families must complete the FAFSA,...
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The New Normal: NYSACAC REGIONAL FORUM

On March 11, 2009, admissions1 consultants attended the New York State Association for College Admissions Counseling (NYSACAC) forum “The Economy and College Admissions: This Year’s Financial Picture for Students and Families.”    The program was held at Sage College’s Albany Campus. The informative session updated the audience on proposed and revamped federal and state financial aid methodology. Not surprisingly, a lot of the discussion was couched in the background of ‘the new normal’ –the changes brought about by and the impact of the economic downturn. Jim Vallee of the Sage College Financial Aid Office gave a very interesting presentation on financial aid changes for the upcoming academic year. He touched on proposed and permanent changes to the federal and state guidelines and how they may impact families. The changes he discussed included five new questions concerning a student’s independent status. Jim pointed out that these changes potentially create more questions than answers. Jim also addressed Governor Paterson’s proposed budget cuts which will have an impact on the NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). The proposal includes changing how students become TAP-eligible based on the number of enrolled credits hours. If passed, the changes to TAP would include allowing students to be TAP-eligible based on number of credits attempted (up to 120 as the maximum) instead of based on the traditional eight semesters. Jim suggested that while the proposed budget cuts would save the state 65 million dollars the changes could adversely affect students who may be full-time but only taking 12 credits. Financial aid and Admissions administrators have lobbied state legislators to vote against these proposed changes. The outcome is still to be determined. Attendees from high schools, colleges, and independent counselors participated actively in the discussion. The attendees addressed recent changes in consumer spending habits and how this will play out for admissions and financial aid at colleges. Jim anticipates more students and families will be lining up at the financial aid office to discuss issues such as recent layoffs and changes in income and assets. It was also discussed that schools are making more of an effort to increase their financial aid budgets to assist the growing number of families in need. Sage College has committed to funding full need (based on the results of the FAFSA) for those students who receive aid. So while the news of dramatic decreases in many school’s endowments seem grave, it is...
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