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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.

Mark your calendar!
Upcoming events:

Take the Mystery out of College Admissions Decisions
August 30, 2016
6:30pm

Media Upper Providence Free Library
1 E. Front St. Media, PA 19063

Become a Savvy College Consumer
September 11, 2016
1:30pm

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

Take the Mystery out of College Admissions Decisions
September 12, 2016
6:30pm

Hankin LIbrary
215 Windgate Drive Chester Springs,PA. 19425

Reservations?(recommended)

Questions?
Call David Clark at (cell) 610-304-7119 or (office) 610-642-4873 (ext. 52) or

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

 

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.

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

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 .

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

Blog Post #71 – Thoughts on getting into college

Use the summer to help make your college application pop.

Take a radically different view of summer. Why not strengthen your resume and college application and follow an interest or passion?

Church youth group mission trip? Tutoring underserved middle school children? Vacation time, properly used, can be a time for fun, which will also be rewarding. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something which, later in your high school experience, will help your college application stand apart from the competition.

No opportunity really jumps out at you? Working at the Dairy Queen seem not that bad after all? Consider an on-campus program at a college/university. Foreign language immersion? Model UN with a renowned International relations professor? Soccer camp with the coach of a Division One program?

Still no luck? Another possibility could be the summer programs offered by elite New England independent boarding schools such as Northfield Mount Hermon (Ma) and Phillips Andover (Ma). They each offer demanding college level work in six week on-campus programs. It may be possible to experience campus life and pursue an interest at a high level in a way that catches the attention of a college admissions committee.

How will this help you get into the college of your dreams? It may not. But, college admission is very competitive; more than three million students will graduate from high school the same June you graduate. A strong focus during the summer months will help your application stand out.

Next blog posting? Tips on how to become a savvy college consumer.


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 articles on family stress during the college search process to be especially helpful. Check out:

Blog Post #22 from April, 2012

Blog Post #29 from November, 2012

Blog Post #70 – Thoughts on getting into college

Predicting success – in college and beyond.

Join me for a conversation about the new best-seller GRIT: the power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth (Scribner, 2016).

Who?  Dr.Angela Duckworth is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2014 winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant.

What?    Her research focus has been on how to predict success; more specifically, how we can predict if a person will succeed before she begins a career.

Who?  Among many subjects in her work, she has focused on new West Point cadets, middle school-age competitors in the National Spelling Bee, people training to be teachers and new sales-people.

What does her research show?  Successful people, in any endeavor, have what Dr. Duckworth refers to as “grit.”

What is it?  She calls it “perseverance from the present into the future.”

How do we know if we have it?  She has designed a test for “grit” (Duckworth pages 55-56) but more to the point:

Duckworth: “There is no gene for grit” (Duckworth, page 82)

Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot…you are right” (Duckworth, pg. 178)

How can we get it?  It is simpler than you think. Here is what three researchers have concluded:

Carol Dwek (Stanford): Learn to do things better (Duckworth, page 180)

Margo Gardner (Columbia): Challenge yourself. For example, in high school participate for at least two years in an extra-curricular or co-curricular activity. (Duckworth, page 226)

Dan Chambliss’ (Hamilton College) study of Olympic athletes: surround yourself with other gritty people. (Duckworth, page 247)

What does this have to do with getting into college?  Possibly a lot.  If, as Dr. Duckworth suggests, “life is a marathon not a sprint,” your undergraduate college search should be for a setting in which you can succeed.

How can you find that right college setting?  Twenty-six percent (26%) of high school seniors make use of an independent consultant.  Why not you?

Next blog posting? Using the summer months to strengthen your college application.


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 articles on the key components in a college application folder to be especially helpful. Check out:

Blog Post #44 from March, 2014

Blog Post #45 from April, 2014

Blog Post #69 – Thoughts on getting into college

College acceptance- I can help you get there.

In the last five years, I have helped high school seniors be accepted to these college/universities:

Boston College, Boston University, Carleton College, Columbia University, Drexel University, George Washington University, Lesley University (Cambridge,MA), Johns Hopkins University, Northeastern University, Notre Dame University, Schreyer Honors College(PSU), Syracuse University, Temple University, University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, University of Memphis, University of Vermont, University of Virginia, United States Naval Academy, Villanova University.

A thought:  I can help you get there; to a college that is a good fit for you.

Don’t forget the value added of an independent college admissions consultant:

  • I am a coach (a.k.a.”consultant”) with time for YOU (available weekends & evenings, too).
  • I am coaching you for college and for life decisions.
  • Did you know that 26% of high school seniors use an independent consultant? Are you making use of every advantage open to you?
  • A college education is the biggest investment your family will make; except for your house  (I can help).

 

Next blog posting? A discussion of Dr. Angela Duckworth’s new book, GRIT.  Does her research support her contention that  success = 2/3 Grit + 1/3 talent?


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 articles on “hidden gems”, colleges you may not have noticed, to be especially helpful.  Check out:

Blog Post #32 from March, 2013

Blog Post #33 from April, 2013

Blog Post #68 – Thoughts on getting into college

A review of Michael Lindsay’s VIEW FROM THE TOP (2014, Wiley); an analysis of the attributes of today’s great leaders.

His Platinum Study took Dr. Michael Lindsay more than ten years to complete. In it he studied the common characteristics of 550 current elite leaders from American business, government, higher education and the not-for-profit sector.

His thoughts on how great leaders got that way include:

  1. His contention: There is no evidence that what you do (or don’t do) before your early 20s makes a difference.

    evidence: He found that great leaders show no pattern of college attendance. More than 2/3 of the leaders he studied did not attend what might be termed an elite undergraduate college.

  2. His contention: Great leaders cultivate what Lindsay labeled a liberal arts approach to life.

    evidence: The powerful modern leaders he studied had knowledge and interests in a wide variety of areas and came from a wide variety of undergraduate majors. He found that great leaders show no pattern of college major.

  3. His contention: It is important to develop a mentor/protégée relationship.

    evidence: His research found that having a good mentor proved to be more significant in producing career success than where one went to college.

  4. His contention: Powerful leaders work hard to develop relationships with those they lead.

    evidence: Lindsay recognized that employees have two basic motivations; they are required to do something or they want to do something. The latter is a far more powerful and constructive motivator.

A final thought: From the point-of-view of a family involved in the college search, Lindsay’s VIEW FROM THE TOP emphasizes the importance of finding the right undergraduate college.

 

Next blog posting? Tips on college planning 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 articles on college campus life to be especially helpful. Check out:

e-newsletter #9 from February, 2011
e-newsletter #58 from April, 2015

Blog Post #67 – Thoughts on getting into college

You can afford college.

Making the financial aid application process work to your benefit is not easy, but a few tips can sure make it a lot simpler.

Tip #1: You cannot win the lottery without buying a ticket. By that I mean:

  • Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov or call 1-800-433-3243). Do it accurately (give special attention to make sure that Social Security numbers and email addresses are correct), and submit it early (January 1st is the earliest FAFSA will be accepted; the deadline shifts to the fall starting with the 2016-2017 academic year.)
  • Why a government form? It gains you access to about $80 billion of state and federal government support for college students AND most private and college scholarship programs require it.
  • Complete your US tax return accurately and early because the FAFSA requires information you can access most easily from your tax return. Numbers you estimate because you submitted the FAFSA before your tax return will need to be updated before any financial aid award is finalized.

Tip #2: Know the terminology.

  • need based financial aid vs. merit based financial aid. “Need based” is based on income and requires the FAFSA be submitted (see above). Income is NOT a factor on merit based aid.
  • work study. Jobs on campus.
  • grant vs. loan. Grants need not be paid back.
  • subsidized Stafford loan vs. un-subsidized Stafford loan. Both must be re-paid but “un-subsidized” are available to all students who submit a FAFSA, regardless of income.
  • expected family contribution. 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. For each school, the difference between that (the EFC) and the actual cost of attendance will be different based on tuition and fees etc. It is that difference that makes up financial aid. Don’t panic but do check my tips # 3 and #4 below.

Tip #3: Know the rules.

  • A student receiving financial aid must be a U.S. citizen (or a permanent resident), have a valid Social Security number and must be making progress toward a degree.
  • The loans are often low interest and most payment plans do not start until after graduation.

Tip #4: Use the internet.

  • research closely the financial aid practices (example: loans and grants given in previous years) of the colleges to which you are applying and make contact with the Financial Aid officer in each school.
  • search for private scholarships not affiliated with the colleges to which you are applying or to your state and federal government.
  • put these excellent websites in your “favorites” and use them many times:
    bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college
    www.fastweb.com
    www.csopportunity.org
    www.thesalliemaefund.org
    Remember you never should be asked to pay for financial aid or scholarship information; it is all available online or directly from the provider.

Tip #5: Don’t despair and keep in contact with the Financial Aid officer in each school to which you have applied. Financial aid packages vary from school to school and many are not finalized until the summer.

Next blog posting? My book review of Michael Lindsay’s VIEW FROM THE TOP; his detailed study of great leaders and how they got to be leaders (spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with where they went to college).


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 other articles on college financial aid to be especially helpful. Check out:

e-newsletter #10 from March, 2011
e-newsletter #42 from December, 2013