Why Students and Parents Need to Know the Latest Buzz about 'Test Optional' Colleges
Okay; it's been a year since I started writing for the Huffington Post. Doesn't seem that long; I'm surprised that I haven't run out of things to say. Fortunately, college admissions is one big, ever-changing arena. I feel like I have just scratched the surface.
Here is a link to "Why Students and Parents Need to Know the Latest Buzz about 'Test Optional' Colleges":
In a full year, it's amazing that I have never written a blog about test optional colleges. This important program wasn't around for people who are older than forty. For kids with learning issues, test anxiety and/or little or no access to test tutoring, test optional colleges is an important topic. In this blog, I also cover what colleges call their "holistic" approach to evaluating students. Even for those of you who don't have kids into or approaching college admissions, I think you will find it is interesting"stuff."
I also identify a bunch of prestigious, very high quality liberal arts colleges that have gone "test optional" as well as a list of public colleges and universities who have also bitten the bullet.
Just so you know, I won't be writing another blog until early June as I am taking a little vacation from the computer. Hope you are enjoying May.
15 Awesome Online and Hard Copy Resources for Finding Colleges You Love
As you all well know, there is a LOT of information about college admissions these days, but no one place where you can go to gain access to even a tiny part of what is available. I can't tell you how often students, and especially parents, ask me for a definitive list about specific admissions topics.
Because college lists are at the top of junior and sophomore and parents' minds right now, I decided to pull together a blog that identifies websites and books that I think are the best resources for that topic. If you knew me well, you would know that I spend a lot of time searching for, researching, trying out and then using hundreds of different admissions websites. What I am suggesting is the best of what I have found. Frankly, this is a list I wish I had had when I first started adMISSION POSSIBLE(r).
The new blog title is: "15 Awesome Online and Hard Copy Resources for Finding Colleges You Love" can be seen at:
When you read it, I think you will discover resources that you never heard about before. Use the suggestions yourself and then pass them along to others. There is no reason to keep this information a secret!
Teens Say Google Search Is Their "Best Friend" when Looking for College Admissions information and Resources
Last week I gave a talk for the San Diego Library underserved students project and one of the student panelists said, "When it comes to finding what I need in college admissions, Google is my best friend." I kept thinking, thinking about his statement and what amazing resources there are.
Okay, so you-all are probably much better than I am at anything having to do with computers and the Internet. But I know that there are many adults and students who know much less than I, particularly when it comes to college admissions. The problem is that they don't know what the really good admissions websites are or even the words to define what they want to know or help them get to the resources.
After awhile, I decided to write my next blog on this. The new blog, "Teens Say Google Search Is Their "Best Friend" when Looking for College Admissions information and Resources" can be found at
You might pass the link along to students who are just beginning or are in the middle of the admissions process. In the next few weeks, I will pull together blogs that actually identify some of the more useful, frequently used websites in the different admissions arenas.
Getting Off a College Wait List
Last week I explained the process that high school seniors can go though to decide to which college they are going to say yes. As different readers saw that blog, many sent me emails asking what their kids could do to get off a college's wait list. What did I do? Naturally, I wrote a blog called "Getting Off a College Wait List!" It can be found at:
High school counselors often say that it's impossible to get off a wait list. If there are any spaces at all, my experience has been that is that it's not that difficult. Over the years, many students with whom I have worked have been very successful.
As always, there is a straightforward process to follow and that's what this week's blog is all about.
I hope you find it useful.
Deciding on One College from All of Your Choices
You may or may not have seniors in high school right now, but my latest Huffington Post blog on "Deciding on One College from All of Your Choices" is a perfect example of how students can use the college admissions process as a way of learning useful life skills. I try to use each phase of my work with students as an opportunity to teach them something useful. Case in point: this week's blog is all about developing key decision-making skills, something everyone needs and uses in all aspects of their lives. You can have a look at this link:
The blog describes a "due diligence" process seniors can go through to come up with the best, final decision about where to go to college:
1. Gather information about yourself, colleges, financial aid and from family, teachers/counselors and important others in your life
2. Visit final choice colleges to get a last look before you make up your mind
3. Go through one or more of the following to make a final choice:
a. Create a grid of the pros and cons for each college option
b. Rate your college options on a scale from 1-10
c. Ask yourself key questions about how you feel about the colleges
d. Get help in deciding from the person/s you trust most
4. Listen to both your heart and head and make the best decision you can.
How Parents Can Help Teens Gain Powerful Skills for Future Careers
Last week I told you that I would be writing the next blog on steps parents can take to prepare kids for college and maybe even careers. If truth be known, this is my response to some recent Chronicle of Higher Ed articles about what companies are looking for in new college graduates who are applying for jobs. I think you will be VERY surprised at what employers are saying. It's not at all what I expected.
If you're interested, have a look at:
Given that all of you are in the business world in one form or another, let me know what you think about this new Post-Recession (my wishful thinking words) world.
Are You Sure College Is Really Worth All the Time and Money?
In spite of your probably having a strong bent towards children attending college, have you ever secretly wondered what evidence there is that doing this actually pays off?
Because of the rough economic times right now, I'm hearing from some curmudgeonly folks that college is just not worth it any more. They say, "It's too expensive, all the kids do is drink, smoke pot, have sex and play. Moreover, when they get out of college, they're no better off than when they went in." Yah; I really am hearing this.
So I decided to do a little research about the advantages of college attendance and, of course, I just had to do a Huff Post blog on the subject. "Are You Sure College Is Really Worth All the Time and Money?" is the latest topic and you can access it at
Just in case you're interested, there's a fascinating article in The New York Times today about what employers are looking for in new employees.
My plan is to write about that next week, identifying the skills young people need to have to get hired these days. I think this is very relevant for high school students who are putting together their college lists and seniors who will be soon making their final college choice. After all, different colleges offer very different kinds of resources and learning environments.
Can't wait to get my teeth into this one.
150 Great Words and Phrases to Use During the College Admissions Process
As a word lover second only to my daughter, what fun I had in writing the latest blog: "150 Great Words and Phrases to Use During the College Admissions Process."
And as it turns out, helping students come up with words that describe who they are is one of the most powerful things I do.
I'll never forget the day when I was working with two university professors and asked them to describe who their son was in as many adjectives, nouns and phrases as they could think of. Among the things the parents said were, "A true intellectual, great sense of humor (often deadpan), his nickname is 'smooth' because of how unflappable, even-keeled and clear-headed he is; inveterate reader, very intuitive, a quiet, yet powerful leader, a good dancer, not just a 'library guy—loves everything in the water, including swimming, surfing, scuba diving;' serious, a wonderful conversationalist, like 'sliced bread.'"
After the brainstorming session was over, the father took me aside and said, "I can't think you enough for having us do this. I just completely fell in love with my kid all over again."
Words are pretty powerful.
I hope you enjoy this blog. Why don't you start your list for your kid/s right now, regardless of how old they are? The only excuse you need is that I told you to do it. Oh yeah, one rule: only positive words! If you don't have kids, then do it for your spouse, best friend, someone about whom you care. You just might fall in love all over again.
Hey, High Schoolers! What Are You Doing This Summer?
It's already February! How can that be?
Believe it or not, many students are already asking me about what they should do during Summer, 2013. I'm glad; this is the perfect time to be gathering information and for the more selective programs turning in application forms.
This then is the subject for my next Huffington Post blog: "Hey, High Schoolers! What Are You Doing This Summer? You can have a look at:
As I have mentioned before, most college admissions officers not only look at student grades and test scores, but they also pay attention to how students spend their time out of school. College admissions reps are especially interested in what students do with their summers.
This new blog gives a lot of information about (and direct links to) Special Academic Programs, Arts and Performing Arts experiences, Volunteering opportunities, Summer Language Immersion and Abroad programs, and a special section of what first generation, under-represented minorities can do.
High School Junior January-June Admission To-Do's
Last week, I sent you a notice about a new HuffPost January-June To Do List for Seniors. I thought that it would be useful for you to have the same for Juniors.
You can access High School Junior January-June Admission To-Do's at this link:
I cover such topics as Activities and Activities Resume, College List, Testing, College Visits and College Fairs, as well as getting yourself going with summer plans. I also have a special section devoted to how to get your PCs and Macs ready and up-to-date for college applications. I think this is a pretty comprehensive list.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email or call me.
Hope this is the beginning of a very happy 2013 for you.
College To-Do List
I know that students are back to school on Monday, so I thought I would put together a blog on exactly what they need to be doing each month - January to June - to finish up the college admissions process (whether all of their applications are in now or still a few pending). Here is the link:
I cover such topics as financial aid/FAFSA, follow-up with colleges, including mid-year and end-of-year reports, grades, last minute college visits and even making your final decision. Where there is need for more information, I included live links to various websites. Because I know a lot of students and parents are worrying about forgetting something, I tried to offer a pretty comprehensive list of what you need to do.
I hope you've had time to relax during the fast few weeks and that you had a very healthy, happy vacation.
Sophomores and Freshman
Happy New Year! I hope you’re having a good year. So that you can plan ahead, here are some things for you to think about and do in the next six months.
JANUARY - JUNE ADMISSIONS TO DO
√ Begin thinking about what you want to do this coming summer. Colleges are just about as interested in what you do outside of school and with your summers as they are in your academics. Make sure you choose something you really enjoy.
√ Stanford University has just announced its summer institutes for middle and high school students. Here is the URL that describes their programs:
√ Attached is a list of web links that provide information about other great summer programs. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth website also lists many cool things to do. Be sure to click on the other links listed on the site.
Know that there are many, many other great programs around a variety of academic and other interests, especially at colleges and universities.
√ During school breaks and while on vacations, swing by any colleges that are nearby just to have a look at what different colleges are like.
√ Take stock of how you are spending your time in and out of school. Is there anything you want to add or eliminate from your schedule? Make sure that everything you do is either something you enjoy or “counts” academically.
√ Decide whether you want to take any Subject Tests for advanced classes in which you are enrolled. The possibilities are:
English History & Social Studies
Literature US History
Math Level I
Biology E or M
Math Level 2 Chemistry
Chinese w listening Spanish
French Spanish w listening
French w listening Italian
German w listening Japanese w listening
Modern Hebrew Korean w listening
Language with listening tests are given only on the November test date. The next ones will be in November, 2013.
Subject Tests 2013
Here are when the regular Subject tests will be given in 2013 that might correspond with your taking AP Tests.
Just as a reminder, UC no longer requires two Subject Tests. They will still review the scores if applicants choose to send them. Know that some majors at different UC campuses still require them.
Many other colleges continue to require or recommend twp Subject Tests. No college requires more than 2.
For a list of colleges that require and recommend Subject Tests, go to:
√ Begin researching and making contact with the best test tutors in town so that you will have a place with one of them next year. If you want recommendations, let me know.
√ Make sure that you are signed up for AP tests that are given at your school in May if you happen to be taking an AP course right now.
√ Attend the National Association of College Admissions Counseling college fair at the San Diego Convention Center April 30 or in the city in which you reside. The following is a link to the NACAC college fair list.
√ Finalize your summer plans.
√ Carefully choose your next year classes, taking into consideration the rigor of the program and balance in your life.
√ Take the AP test for any AP class in which you are enrolled.
√ Ace your Finals.