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Mark your calendar!

College Search Spring 2019 Schedule:

Soon to be announced

In 2017 – 2018, David Clark’s three complimentary evening college planning workshops for college bound high school students and parents were attended by more than 20 families from more than four school districts in Chester County.

A college search tip for high school juniors

Make the College Fair experience work for you.

The College Fair experience is as much a part of the landscape of the college search in America today as is unsolicited mail. You know all the ingredients; a cavernous and impersonal facility; rows and rows filled with representatives of college admissions offices both near and far; and hundreds of high school students brought in by school bus.

You may be there with some friends from high school or your parents; so, where to start? The sponsoring organization is likely to be an organization of college admissions professionals from high schools (the “guidance counselors”) and colleges (the “admissions officers”).

There is little doubt this “shopping mall” approach to the college search serves the interest of the colleges more than it does the students and families. When you leave, you’ll have a plastic bag, affixed with a college’s logo, filled with glossy publications that will almost certainly end up in the same place the unsolicited literature you got in the mail. If your hope was to gain a bit of knowledge and possibly reduce your family’s college search anxiety a bit, think again. Too much information will end up being just as stressful for you and your parents as was not enough information.

How to make the college fair work for you?

Step one: Before the college fair.

Have a game plan, a strategy, before you go. Do some research. Find a list of the colleges that will be attending and spend some time sorting through that list. Any that you have already identified as a place you have an interest? Any new-to-you that match what you may be looking for-enrollment? programs? part of the country?

Step two: During the college fair.

Be sure to find the booth of the colleges that you highlighted in your “Before” research. Stop at each college’s booth and introduce yourself to the admissions representative. This is not the time to ask detailed questions, but it is a good time to show interest and to make contact with someone who may be able to answer more detailed questions by email or over the phone.

If the college did not make your pre-college fair qualification, save your time and pass that college by.

Step three: After the fair.

Intensify your research. On line? Whether it be the College Board’s “Big Future” website, a website offering student insight like “CollegeNiche” or another source altogether, dig a bit deeper. Know someone, a neighbor, the sibling of a classmate who attended? Inquire there.

Remember, be an educated consumer now, when it matters. You’ll be glad you did.

Next blog posting? Does a college education still have value?

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 University Graduate School of Education. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there.

Many readers have found my book reviews to be especially helpful:

Helpful Readings – Surviving the College Search Hysteria

Helpful Readings on the College Search Process

Book Review of Michael Lindsay’s ‘View from the Top’


Need a speaker for a community organization meeting?
Mr. Clark offers these popular evening college planning programs for college bound high school students and parents.

TAKE THE MYSTERY OUT OF COLLEGE ADMISSIONS OFFICE DECISIONS.
The workshop will include help in de-mystifying how colleges make admissions decisions and tips for finding financial aid.

EVERYTHING YOU HAVE WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK.
This workshop will present tips on financial aid, on paying for college and on planning for those college tuition bills.

BECOME A SAVVY COLLEGE CONSUMER
So little time, so many choices. Use the college search to make priorities and focus options.

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Announcing New Offering

Announcing a one day program for High School Seniors:

COLLEGE APPLICATION ASSIST

  • Individualized transcript review.
  • Application completion support.
  • Personalized application essay workshop.

Available space will be limited.

when? Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 10:00am-1:30pm
where? Paoli Executive Green-One, Ste. 304; 41 Leopard Rd., Paoli, PA. 19301
who? David Clark, Ed.M.; Independent College Admissions Consultant, Member: PACAC and HECA

Questions? Directions? Cost?

Phone: 610-304-7119 email: david@collegesearchnow.net

Bonus!
Registrants (and parents) who have paid the registration deposit by October 10, 2018 may attend-at no charge- a one hour College Financial Aid seminar held at the conclusion of the College Application Assist.

David Clark, Ed.M.
41 Leopard Rd., Suite 304
Paoli, PA. 19301

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 University Graduate School of Education. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there.

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A truth college admissions offices would prefer you did not know

Recent articles in the WALL STREET JOURNAL (1/31/18, “Some elite colleges review an application in 8 minutes”) and the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION (2/1/18 “Reading an application in 10 minutes?”) shine a spotlight on a reality.

Truth #1: In a highly competitive environment, college administrators want to see “numbers” out of the admissions office.

Truth #2: Colleges market themselves to increase the total number of applications without increasing actual number of students accepted.

Truth #3: Colleges trumpet “holistic“ admissions practices that look at the “whole student”; admissions staff are under pressure to read through essays and personal statements as quickly as possible.

Truth #4: Turnover in college admissions staff is high.

Truth #5: Colleges profess disdain for the rankings (ex: US NEWS & WORLD REPORT) but total number of applications is an important factor in these AND it is true that the LOWER the acceptance rate the HIGHER the placement on a ranking.

Truth # 6: High demand and stagnant supply is a perfect way to keep prices (a.k.a. cost of college) high.

What does this mean for a college bound high school student and her family? Be a savvy consumer. Don’t feed the frenzy. Research carefully, visit several campuses. Control what you can control.

Remember this; the most important single data point in an applicant’s folder is the quality of the applicant’s high school academic program. Are you challenging yourself? In an area of interest –a possible college major-are you taking the most demanding academic level your school offers?

 

Important offering! I am available to work with families and college-bound high school to construct a personalized and individualized College Application Roadmap.

Next blog posting? Make the college fair experience work for you.

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 University Graduate School of Education. His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there.

Many readers have found these earlier e-newsletters on “How college admission decisions are made”to be helpful:

How the admissions office makes its decision-part one

How the admissions office makes its decision – part two

 

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Be An Educated Consumer: Tips on College Financial Aid

Tips on college financial aid.

The big picture: Prior to World War II , a college education was a luxury available primarily to the children of the privileged. Less than 10% of high school graduates applied to college. Today, a college education is a cultural, social and economic necessity. The numbers don’t lie; the income, over his/her lifetime, of a college graduate is twice that of a high school graduate. Access to this career path is supported by numerous state and federal programs, much of it available to students from families who cannot afford to pay all college expenses out-of-pocket.

Make no mistake, a college education is not cheap. For many families it is the greatest single expense they will encounter and for families who own their home it is the largest expense other than home ownership.

But prices vary widely and the college marketplace cries out for savvy consumers. Think about how you buy a car; a balancing act between “want” and “need” and what you can afford ends with a judgment as to what segment of the automobile marketplace to pursue. Selecting a group of colleges to which to apply should be no different.

Making the financial aid application process work to your benefit is not easy.

A tip: Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov or 1-800-433-3243) and submit it early (October 1st is the earliest FAFSA will be accepted).  The FAFSA gains you access to state and federal government support for college students AND most private and college scholarship programs require it.
Each college you indicate on the FAFSA will receive the Student Aid Report (you will receive a copy, too) on which an estimate is made of what your family can afford for one year of your college education.

A caution: The college “marketplace”, a sellers’ market, has created a confused and complicated process. Colleges encourage this “ignore the sticker price” thinking but under prodding from the federal government each is now required to post a net price calculator on its website to assist savvy consumers.

There is roughly $185 billion (source: THE COLLEGE BOARD, “Trends in Student Aid 2012”) available each year from all sources to help students pay for college. More than 50% of that is available to families without regard to annual income.

Hard to follow? You bet. Worth getting details? Correct again. What to do? Be an educated consumer.

In fact, value is there for the savvy consumer who knows where to look.

Examples of value you will find in the college search include:

  • co-op programs (examples: Drexel in Philadelphia and Northeastern in Boston) where valuable paid internships in the discipline of your college major area are a requirement.Income to help with expenses and practical ‘on-the-job’ experience at the same time! What is not to like?
  • five college consortiums (examples: the Five Colleges in Amherst, Mass and the Claremont Colleges in California) in which a student enrolled at one college may take courses at any of the other colleges, each with its own distinct strengths.
  • PG or “Gap” year programs for the student who may get little out of the college experience right now. Whether it be another year of high school in a different setting (“PG” ) or an intense and maturing work experience (‘Gap”) the evidence is clear that students who defer college for a year get more out of college once he/she does enroll.
  • colleges for whom the SATs or ACTs are optional. More than 25% of four year colleges are “test optional.”
  • 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.
  • plenty of sources of cost reduction once on campus: most colleges forgive the room & board charge for dorm RAs. (resident assistants).

Want some college “shopping “tips?  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?

Nice to know and you’ll find it out soon enough once you enroll:

  • who teaches freshman courses, full professors? TAs?
  • % 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?

Important new offering!  I am now available to work with families at all income levels on constructing a “Road Map to Financial Aid resources.”

 

Next blog posting?  Make the college fair experience work for you.

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 University Graduate School of Education.  His website www.collegesearchnow.net is worth visiting and he can be reached there.

**Many readers have found my earlier e-newsletter on the PG and Gap year to be helpful.

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Rigor on American College Campuses in Decline?

Rigor on American college campuses is a thing of the past.

The image of the undergraduate education in the college/universities in recent research is not a pretty one. For many students, freshman year is spent learning skills already covered in high school.

For example, according to Academically Adrift by Arum and Roksa (2011):

  •  more than one-third of freshmen drop out and those that stay show little “improvement in learning” in the first two years of college.

Perhaps more disturbing is the “WHY” suggested by the authors. According to Academically Adrift:

  • students spend more time in social activities than studying and largely avoid academic challenge. Participation in sororities or fraternities, a major social force on many campuses, clearly slows learning.

Paying for the Party by Armstrong and Hamilton (2013), offers kudos for the fact that our country is committed to state taxpayer funded higher education; 70% of college students attend a public institution and almost 80% of college students attend college in the same state where he/she lives.

But, according to Armstrong and Hamilton, the perception of college as a great meritocracy and socio-economic class leveler simply isn’t true.

The college support structure is not geared to the student who really needs it; a student looking for challenge but little experience finding it. Perhaps he/she attended a small town public high school with limited resources or possibly he/she is the first in the family to attend college.

The less affluent applicant on what the authors refers to as the “mobility pathway” has limited financial resources is on his/her own. Few university advisors have the time or incentive to help.

Full disclosure: The above includes excerpts from two previous articles;  e-newsletter #37 from July of 2013 and e-newsletter #51 from June, 2014. Much of the research quoted is from Academically Adrift by Arum and Roksa (Univ. of Chicago, 2011) or Paying for the Party by Armstrong and Hamilton (Harvard, 2013).

Next blog posting?  Financial Aid tips.

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 financial aid:

Article #10 from March, 2011

Article #11 from April, 2011

Article #42 from December, 2013

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Harvard Rocks the Social Media Generation: A College Admissions Bombshell

A college admissions “bombshell” from Massachusetts.

Harvard University rocked the social media generation recently when it withdrew the letter of acceptance to ten incoming freshmen of the class of 2021.

the offense?
Racially insensitive and sexually inappropriate memes sent by a group of high school seniors earlier this spring.

the goal of the meme?
To prove that “smart kids can have fun”, to be edgy, to get read.

why did the college admission world take notice?
When Harvard sneezes, the rest of the world says “god bless you.” Harvard enacted a rarely used provision of all college letters of acceptance which allows the admitting institution to reverse course.

was this a poorly contemplated action to later bring embarrassment to the university, similar to what happened this summer at the University of California-Irvine?
No, Harvard seemed to have little choice.

did Harvard act unilaterally without any warning?
No, it had similar concerns a year earlier with the class of 2020 and issued a warning that time.

does Harvard propose to scan the social media posting of all applicants?
No, it was alerted by a third party to this particular group chat. But, don’t forget, any college has the right to peruse the social media postings of any applicant.

any suggestions for high school students about to apply to college?
Remember the rule; “don’t post anything you would not want your grandmother to read.”

 

Next blog posting? Is rigor on American college campuses a thing of the past?

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 financial aid:

Article #10 from March, 2011

Article #11 from April, 2011

Article #42 from December, 2013

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The SAT Subject Test

The SAT subject test – friend or foe?

Oddly named, rarely required and unknown to many college applicants, the SAT Subject Tests (a.k.a.the “SAT- IIs”, a.k.a. the “Achievement Tests”) perform an important, and often ignored, function in the college admissions process.

When? Six times a year, on the same date (a Saturday) as the well-known SAT-Reasoning test.

How long?  One hour. As many as three may be taken on any test date. Pre-registration is advised.

What subjects?  There are twenty different tests spread across the five primary high school curricular subject areas; English, History, Math (two different levels of difficulty), Science (Chemistry, Physics and two variations of Biology) and Language (ten different languages with listening available for most but only on the November sitting).

How do the colleges use these scores?  Stay tuned. It varies widely and is constantly changing to include “required “, required but will accept the ACT”, “strongly recommended”, “recommended” and considered”

Wow. That is confusing! What do you suggest? Do your research. Assume nothing. When in doubt call (yes, call) the Admissions rep for your region.

Do not forget: “Recommended “means Required.

Do not forget 2.0: That a particular department major (ex: Engineering) may require the tests when the college of arts & sciences does not.

Do I control if a college Admissions office receives my scores?  Yes.

How can I prepare?  We can help.

​​​Next blog posting?  Harvard rocks the social media generation.

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

 

A reminder:
​A complimentary evening program for college bound high school students and parents:

*Everything you have 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. Email Mr. Clark at david@collegesearchnow.net.

Need directions? Have a question? Call (cell) 610-304-7119 or (office) 610-642-4873 (ext. 52)

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The Changing Contents of a College/University Application Folder

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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Placed on the ‘Wait List’; Now What?

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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The Value of Honors Programs

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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