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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College Admissions Myth #2: Admissions is all about the numbers.

College Admissions Myth Busted: Admissions is *NOT* just an exercise in crunching the numbers. Do admissions officers look at more than the “numbers” when making admissions decisions?  That is, do colleges and universities care about anything else besides GPA and standardized test scores?  Absolutely. Yes they do.  We are asked this question all the time by our clients and we strongly believe that there is as much art as there is science to the admissions process.  Remember the game show “The Price is Right”?  In the admissions scenario, the ‘numbers’ you present at the stage door (your test scores and GPA) get you into the audience (i.e., application pool) and poised for serious consideration.  It is the rest of your application –your essay, recommendations, and the many extras that make the application unique and (quite frankly) interesting– that get you admitted or, as Bob Barker might have it, to “come on down” because it’s your turn to join this college community. Of course admissions officers want to accept students who can handle the work at that particular institution.  The numbers –most importantly the rigor and upward trend of the transcript– show them that you likely can and get you in that audience.  Once there, however, you need to show the school that you have more to offer than just the numbers.  You need to show them how you will contribute to the campus.   The Science and Art of College Admissions This is where the science ends and the art begins.  Remember, a college campus is a community complete with artists, musicians, athletes, scientists, politicians and much, much more.  If all admissions officers had to do was look at the numbers and accept the top 6%, 10%, or 20% (depending on selectivity), then their job would be easy, and actually so would the applicant’s.  But this is not the case.  Remember, colleges read all of the material you submit and sometimes it comes down to splitting hairs in admissions.  What does Applicant A offer as compared to Applicant B?  Maybe A is involved in student government but B is an oboe player.  Maybe A came to campus and updated her application to let the admissions office know about an award won.  Maybe, maybe not.  That is what makes each application unique and why the art of admissions is much more subtle and difficult than the science. Test Optional Admissions The ever increasing number of schools...
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You Need an Affordability Strategy for College

High School Juniors are poised to begin the college selection process.  This is a long (and sometimes drawn out) process.  We recommend that families break it down into three distinct phases:  1) Exploration –this is the time to consider where you would like to attend school, what you will study, and what your goals are.  Do you prefer the city over a rural setting?  Would you like a traditional liberal arts curriculum or would you prefer a professional program and do you understand the difference?   Would a large (over 10,000 students) school be your first choice or would you enjoy a small (less than 5,000 students) school? This is the time to ask these kinds of questions and find schools that fit your goals.  2) Application Completion –completing the many forms, writing your college essay, sending in transcripts, recommendations, activities resume, and interviewing–all in a timely fashion.  3) Decision Making–comparing all of your positive outcomes.  Taking a look at your academic, professional, co-curricular, and affordability goals and choosing the school that most closely meets your criteria. Students and families should be prepared to do the lion’s share of the work in the exploration phase.  By encouraging students to frontload their efforts in this process, they will become empowered and engaged in their educational future.  This leadership role combined with good decision making skills will transfer favorably once on a college campus.  This will give new college students the confidence to engage positively in their new environment. The exploration period is the time to focus not only on academic and professional goals, but also on how your family will finance this costly investment.  The exploration period should include an honest discussion among family stakeholders about paying for college.  One strategy is to research and apply to a range of schools that offer a variety of financial opportunities.  For example, we suggest students apply to at least one state school (we are based in NY which has 64 state campuses and are a fabulous educational bargain) and a number of schools that offer academic merit scholarships (scholarships based on academic merit NOT financial situation).  Remember, you won’t get an academic scholarship if you don’t apply to schools offering academic scholarships. Good luck and have fun exploring your...
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