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Mark your calendar!

I am pleased to announce the fall schedule of my complimentary evening programs for college bound high school students and parents.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS DECISIONS (key ingredients of every college application)
September 6, 2017
7:00pm

Chester County Library
450 Exton Square Pkwy.
Exton, PA 19341

EVERYTHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (planning for those college tuition bills)
September 18, 2017
6:30pm

Henrietta Hankin Library
215 Windgate Dr.
Chester Springs, PA 19425

Reservations, please.

Questions? Directions?
Call Mr. David Clark at 610-304-7119 or 610-642-4873 (ext. 52) or email us

In 2015 – 2016, David Clark’s five complimentary evening college planning workshops for college bound high school students and parents were attended by more than 35 families from more than six school districts in Chester County.

Blog Post #81 – Thoughts on getting into college

Not your mother’s college application.

At first quietly and slowly, but now more rapidly, there has been a revolution in the contents of a college/university application folder. There is great variety in the required documents & data that make up the standard college application folder. In fact, there may not be a standard required college application folder anymore.

ACT or SAT Test scores required?
Surely you gest. More than 25% of four year colleges & universities in America allow applicants to submit tests scores only if they, the applicant, wishes. That is, test scores are optional.

Increasing, too, are Admissions offices which ask that no test scores at all be submitted.

…and about those test scores. Rare is the admissions office that requires submission of all tests taken. Most allow applicants to pick which scores get seen by college admissions offices, and which do not.

Transcripts optional?
In many cases, grades can be self-reported on the application. At least one four year college has made the transcript itself optional.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success
In the spring of 2016 a group about eighty of the elite college/universities in America created the Coalition which is an application platform through which an applicant may process the entire application form and all supporting documents to Coalition member schools.

Sound familiar? It should, that is essentially the function now filled by the Common Application (about 650 member college/universities). One key difference is that the Coalition encourages applicants to submit supporting documentation at any time over the four years of high school prior to submitting the application itself.

n.b. See too, my column #64 from November, 2015 for more detail on the Coalition.

The latest?
An interesting proposal to end the traditional transcript and replace numeric grades with a skills inventory is being discussed by a working group of elite independent schools and many of the same colleges that make up the Coalition.

The good news?
All of this is designed to end the notion of the application taking on a life of its own. The application should support the process, not take over the process. Stay tuned.

Impact on you for the college search process?
College application requirements are increasingly varied and complicated. Be a savvy consumer and do your research carefully and head of time. You will be glad you did.

 

Next blog posting? SAT Subject tests – friend or foe?

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families of high school seniors have found helpful my suggestions on how to find excellent college options in the summer after graduation:

Article #14 from June, 2011

Article #35 from May, 2013

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Blog Post #80 – Thoughts on getting into college

The agony of the Wait List.

Remember, placing an applicant on a college’s Admissions Wait List, is a tool of enrollment management which serves the college’s interest, not yours.

Good news/Bad news: You did not get rejected and the college is working to keep you from choosing another college. But your chances are slim.

How does it work? Admissions offices do one of two things. Create a numerical ranking of the Wait List students ranked in order of priority for the college or simply re-start the folder evaluation process considering only the entire pool of Wait List students.

Bottom line: Either way, you are unlikely to get a precise estimation of your chances of finally getting accepted.

What should you do if your first choice college puts you on the Wait List?
First: Make your case.

Show strong interest by saying “Yes” to the Wait List offer.

Update the Admissions Office with your third & forth marking period grades, any Honor roll or other awards and anything new since the original application was submitted.

Second: Explore other options.

Assume you will NOT be moved off the wait list.

Remember: Financial Aid is almost always awarded on a first come first served basis.

Next blog posting? The SAT subject tests.

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families have found helpful my suggestions for colleges that are “hidden gems”; less than an 8 hour drive away, acceptance rate less than 50% and probably unknown to you:

Article #33 from March, 2013

Article #61 from August, 2015

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Blog Post #79 – Thoughts on getting into college

Honors programs; a great value for your college tuition dollar.

Where? At many public universities.

What? Offerings for eligible university students (honors “programs”) or a distinct unit within the university itself ( Honors “College”).

Benefits? Varies widely from university to university. Benefits could be anything from a lecture series or an elective class to priority at registration to a free–standing unit with its own professors, smaller size classes, and dorms.

Does it cost me more on top off tuition and board? Possibly, but typically the cost is simply a small fee. For example, for the two most prominent Honors colleges in the northeast, the Penn State Schreyer Honors College charges $25 per semester and the University of Maryland Honors College charges no fee (source: INSIDE HONORS: Ratings and Reviews of sixty public university honors programs – edited by Willingham.2016).

Remember, in many cases Honors students are eligible for merit based financial aid grants not open to the student body at large.

How do access to internships, graduation rates and grad school & job placement rates compare? Usually stronger than the general student population at large.

Why do the universities do this? Attracts bright , motivated students excited about using the extensive resources of a large state university at an in-state tuition price.

Sounds like the advantages of smaller , private college ( smaller classes, access to professors) with the facilities and resources of a university. Yes, it is called “VALUE ADDED.”

So what does that mean for my college search?
Be a savvy consumer. Do your research. Honors programs and honors colleges vary widely. Visit campus. Ask questions. Talk to recent grads. Don’t be afraid to use parents, counselors and consultants. Visit as many campuses as possible before your senior year in high school.

Next blog posting?  The Agony of the Wait List.

 

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families have found helpful my suggestions for colleges that are “hidden gems”; less than an 8 hour drive away, acceptance rate less than 50% and probably unknown to you:

Article #33 from March, 2013

Article #61 from August, 2015

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Blog Post #78 – Thoughts on getting into college

A college education Online; where are we now?

Online college education, the campus revolution that didn’t happen.

Three years ago, when I last wrote about online education in colleges (see e-newsletter #39, September, 2013) MOOCs (a.k.a Massive Open Online Courses) were the new hot thing. Elite colleges/universities were sprinting to monetize their fame and that of their superstar professors, all under the guise of open access. One prominent university even fired the president, then re-hired her two weeks later, over concern about being late to the online education game.

The revolution hasn’t happened yet. For example, most MOOC students don’t even finish the class despite the cost (free) amid concerns about high set-up costs without offering academic credit. Online education has been relegated to a niche market largely inhabited by for-profit corporations.

But, recent research (see Harvard Business Review, September, 2015) suggests a more positive future. The data suggests that the small number that do finish, report the class enhanced in job skills.

But, back to the role of online education on campus. Here are some questions as yet unanswered:

Q: Will online courses from elite universities destroy second tier colleges by attracting a wider group of students who are attracted by the name but will not (or cannot) live on campus?

A: The answer is unclear but there is little doubt that the motivation of the elite universities is to monetize the fame of the big-name professors on campus.

Q: Will what we think of as a college education be forever altered?  With the images of bricks and ivy join the white picket fence in the dustbin of history?

A: That has already happened, without notice. Of the more than 19 million undergraduates in American today less than 25% are living on-campus and will complete coursed work in four years.

The emergence of online classes for credit at an accredited, not-for-profit college is perhaps the most interesting recent development. Both on the graduate level (one example is MIT) and the undergraduate level (Oberlin and Arizona State are two examples.) academic credit may be earned for some courses taken online. The cost to the student is significantly lower than what it would be for a traditional student living on-campus. In each case, the online option is just one part of a degree program, but the credit for an online class threshold has been breached.

Q: Online classes, friend or foe of traditional classroom-based, undergraduate education?

A: The predominance of the non-traditional student has made this change inevitable. It cannot be denied that the flexibility and accessibility of college coursework available to students online convenient to the student’s personal schedule at an affordable price is a growing part of the college landscape.

Q: Will online education diminish the undergraduate classroom experience?

A: Possibly, and possibly for the better. Why not offer the option to undergrads to complete the introductory core requirements and department basic level courses online; that is, at their own pace away from the classroom?

So what does that mean for your college search?

Be a savvy consumer. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to use parents, counselors and consultants. Visit as many college campuses as possible before your senior year in high school.

Next blog posting? Honors programs. A great value for your college tuition dollar!

 

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families have found helpful my suggestions for colleges that are “hidden gems”; less than an 8 hour drive away, acceptance rate less than 50% and probably unknown to you:

Article #33 from March, 2013

Article #61 from August, 2015

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Blog Post #77 – Thoughts on getting into college

Incompetence in college admissions. Can it be true?

Insensitivity and incompetence in a college admissions sellers’ market?

In December, 2016 Tulane University (New Orleans) joined a depressingly familiar club. The undergraduate admissions office mistakenly accepted students, and then reneged on the acceptance notification. This mistake hit the 130 applicants particularly hard because they were in the early decision category. That is, Tulane was a clear first choice and for the 130 applicants, it was the “dream “school.

Tulane is not the only university in this “hall of shame.” A similar blunder has been made in recent years at universities including MIT, Carnegie -Melon, Vassar, UCLA, Johns Hopkins and the University of Delaware.

Clearly, the problem is systemic and not unique to Tulane. That is what concerns me. Recent history suggests that such an embarrassment will re-occur.

Does anyone care? Comedienne Lilly Tomlin used to do a hilarious routine on the old LAUGH -IN TV comedy show in which she was a customer service representative for a large monopoly corporation when she said, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Do the colleges care? As a college education becomes an economic necessity and barriers to college access crumble are the colleges themselves acting like an insensitive monopoly? The consumer marketplace is unlikely to have an impact; last year Tulane rejected 93% of the more than 20,000 applications it received and the numbers are unlikely to be affected by the university’s blunder.

Is the integrity of the college admission system at risk in an era when an admissions office administrator deflects responsibility and “apologizes”, without consequences?

What is the lesson here for a family involved in the college search?

Be a wise consumer. A college education is an investment; probably the single largest expense a family will have other than its home. Do your research, visit a small number of colleges, and know your options. Ask tough questions of the admissions professionals. Make sure you are getting value for your tuition dollar.

Select colleges for application that fit you, don’t try to fit yourself to the college.

 

Next blog posting?  College education online, the revolution that was delayed.

 

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families have found helpful my non-negotiable “shopping” tips for families in the college search in my Blog Post # 62 from September, 2015.

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Blog Post #76 – Thoughts on getting into college

How to find the right college for the non-elite athlete.

Are you a high school athlete who has had some success but are unsure if your talent and skills should be a factor in your college search?

If “Yes”, here are some tips for your college search.

 

Remind yourself of your true objective.

Your first goal is to get an education. Will you be challenged and grow as a person whether you play a sport or not?

Don’t forget the “broken leg” test. If you destroy your knee on the first day of practice and will never play for that college, will you be happy at that college/university? Will you receive a good education?

 

Be realistic.

Have you considered Division III schools? There are a many more opportunities to play than in Division I or Division II schools and the absence of athletic scholarships could be a positive. You will be playing a sport because you want to, not because you are required to do it.

 

Your success as an athlete will be an admissions positive.

You are exactly the sort of student admissions offices love. You are a disciplined, focused and goal-oriented candidate who will add to the life of the college community. My hunch is you have an experience as an athlete that would make a compelling topic for an admissions application essay.

 

You will perform better in your classes.

The research is clear; students active outside of class perform better in class. (see for example, Dr. Margo Gardner at Columbia and Dr. Laurence Steinberg at Temple on the academic value of non-academics in college)

 

What about giving up a chance at scholarship money?

You have a very good chance at earning a merit scholarship at a Division III college and no chance (sorry) of athletic scholarship money at a Division I college. (see my article # 54 from December, 2014)

 

What do you suggest for my college search?

Be a savvy consumer. Remember, your goal is to find a college setting that is right for YOU.

 

Next blog posting? MOOCs and online degrees; where are we now?

 

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.

**Many families have found helpful my suggestions for colleges that are “hidden gems”; less than an 8 hour drive away, acceptance rate less than 50% and probably unknown to you:
Blog Post #33, March 2013
Blog Post #61, August, 2015

 

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Blog Post #75 – Thoughts on getting into college

The college search with future employment in mind?


fact:
A college degree is becoming the minimum qualification in the job marketplace.

fact: College majors which offer a short–term link to the job marketplace (example: Business) are more popular than liberal arts degrees (example: Political Science).

fact: A recent management study indicated that liberal arts majors are more likely to be promoted than business majors. (see FORTUNE magazine, November 2015.)

So why is it that an undergraduate with a major in the liberal arts may flourish in the job marketplace more than a Business major who has more marketable skills? Employers agree that essential workplace skills such as speaking well, writing clearly and using higher order thinking skills are more rare today, and thus, more valuable.

If Business is the default major is that degree less valuable? Regardless of the undergraduate major, prospective employers want to know if an applicant is accustomed to using critical thinking skills. Is a Political Science major who wrestled with Hobbes’ LEVIATHAN in an 8:30am sophomore year class better prepared to write, speak and think in a rapidly changing work environment?

fact: Most college students today will live into their 80s work into their 70s and change careers several times.

fact: A recent survey of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies found that more had an undergraduate major in the liberal arts than one in Business.

So what is a high school senior looking at colleges to do? If you have a clear career path in mind, follow it. Most high school seniors do not. For those, the major is less important than the setting. Find a college environment that is both challenging and comfortable. You will be glad you did.

 

David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there. An archive with a variety of blog postings on the college search process can be accessed there, also.
**Further data on the career prospects of liberal arts majors versus pre-professional majors may be found in the study “How liberal arts majors fare in employment” conducted by the American Association of Colleges & Universities in 2014.

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Blog Post #74 – Thoughts on getting into college

Parenting and the college search

The college search is a time of great stress for the entire family. On a financial level you will encounter the single greatest expense for your family, other than your home. On a personal level your son/daughter will begin a transition, out of your family. In our culture, the search for a “good fit” college brings with it great uncertainty for the parents and for the student.

What is the role of the parent? Clearly, there is no “how to” guide. No Parenting the College search for Dummies to be purchased at your local bookstore. But there are distinct benchmarks of healthy and unhealthy parenting.

I add to our conversation two thoughtful pieces of writing, done sixteen years apart:

Michael Thompson, a Boston area family therapist, wrote an article in 1997, “College Admission as a failed rite of passage” (NAIS, 1997) which resonates today, more than ever.

  • Thompson points out:
    • the college search process should not be referendum on success as a parent.
    • the college search process should not be a judgment of your quality as an individual.
    • parents may make the situation worse.  “I just want my son/daughter to be happy” is the common refrain but unrealistic expectations for acceptance into a “good” college (“good”=prestigious=social status is the thinking) is more typically the norm.
  • Thompson suggests that college admission in America today is zero sum game in which winners and losers are identified early in life.

and

Caitlin Flanagan, a contemporary social critic, wrote an article in the August, 2016 issue of the ATLANTIC (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/how-helicopter-parents-cause-binge-drinking/492722/) which raises powerful questions about the role of parents in creating the serious public health crisis we have on American college campuses, alcohol abuse.

  • Parents, in her view, promote alcohol abuse on college campuses through a manner of parenting before college that established that alcohol is “ok”, drugs not,  and therefore alcohol abuse at home is better than alcohol abuse elsewhere.
  • Flanagan’s conversation circles back to Thompson when she points out that parents promote this dysfunction when they view college admission as the ultimate ranking.

Are we forgetting the important role of the high school experience itself in a young person’s education and maturation by seeing it as a means to an end? Has the college search frenzy rendered high school to merely a steppingstone experience?

My advice?

  • to the student: Start early. Involve your entire team; family, counselors and teachers. Find time for YOU. Find a college setting that is right for YOU.
  • to parents: Stay involved. Be an educated consumer. Ask the tough questions now, rather than later.

Next blog posting? Which is better for you, a liberal arts major or a business major?


David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. David is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .


Many families going through the college search have found helpful my suggestions of books by parents going through a familiar anxiety:

Blog Post #65 from January, 2016

Blog Post #43 from January, 2014

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Blog Post #73 – Thoughts on getting into college

College search tips for high school juniors

College planning for high school juniors, it is time to turn it up a notch.

A high school junior thinking of college has appropriately kept his/her focus narrow; taking the most challenging academic courses and finding a level of success. But the fall of the junior year is when the college search process needs to become more detailed and more comprehensive.

Your most highly scrutinized academic experience will be from the beginning of the junior year to the middle of the senior year. Remember, the most important factor in a college admissions committee’s decision is the quality of your academic program. That does not mean take nothing but AP classes, but it does mean that you should be taking the most challenging academic program appropriate for you.

There is no need to take the SATs or the ACTs until the spring but there is plenty you can do to prepare so that you will do your best. Be sure to take the PSATs (the PLAN test for the ACT) in October. Either serves as excellent” practice” and the results (available in December) can be a benchmark for future planning. Disappointed in the results? You should consider working with a test prep tutor; many other students will consider that option, as well.

Whether it be a campus drive-through, an informal lunch at the Student Union or a scheduled campus tour, now is an excellent time to visit colleges that interest you. How to decide which schools to visit? Try the “College Matchmaker” questions at Collegeboard.org to get you started.

The time between the end of the junior year and the beginning of the senior year is a powerful untapped resource that can strengthen an application. (see my e-newsletter # 14). Start researching and planning now and it could be of tremendous help to you in making your application stand out.

Does this all raise the level of stress for you and your family? Consider working with an independent college admission consultant. The families of more than 26% of college bound high school students do already.

Next blog posting? Tough questions for an elite college-bound athlete.


David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. David is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .

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Blog Post #72 – Thoughts on getting into college

Finding value in the college search.

Only with a college education are you urged to look at price last.

We follow a logical step-by-step procedure with all high-priced consumer purchases except one, a college education. Why not start your college search that way, because that is almost certainly where you’ll finish your search.

When you shop for any high priced consumer product (for example, a car) you START with the price, make several “need vs. want” calculations from there, and arrive at a final decision that offers what you need at a price that is within your family’s financial resources.

Yes, it pays to go to college. Lifetime earnings will double on average, civic engagement (voting, volunteering etc.) increases and life span is longer.

But value is there for the savvy consumer. Examples of value you may find in the college search include:

  • co-op programs (Drexel, Northeastern) where valuable paid internships are a requirement.
  • five college consortiums (Amherst, Mass; Claremont colleges in California) in which a student may take courses at five different campuses.
  • PG or “Gap” year programs for the student who may get little out of the college experience right now.
  • colleges for whom the SATs or ACTs are optional (more than 25% of four year colleges)
  • non-traditional college settings for those of us who learn in at a different pace.
  • service academies or ROTC programs where part/all of expenses are paid for by the US taxpayer.

When you visit a campus, work hard to find out the following:

  • Non-negotiable
    • graduation rate within 4 years? within 6 years?
    • job placement by major? for the previous year’s senior class?
    • average student loan debt at graduation?
    • is the net price calculator easily navigable?
    • level of support services? academic? medical?
  • Nice to know and you’ll find it out soon enough if you enroll.
    • who teaches freshman courses, full professors? TAs?
    • hybrid courses?
    • % of grades that are A or B?

Be an educated consumer.  If you view a college education as an investment, why approach the college search any other way?

Next blog posting?  College search tips for high school juniors.


David W. Clark, Ed.M. is an independent college admission consultant who has been working with high school students for more than thirty-five years. David is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .


Many readers have found my article on recruiting athletes to be especially helpful. Check out:

Blog Post #54 from December, 2014

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