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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 #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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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

Blog Post #66 – Thoughts on getting into college

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 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” (formerly College Prowler”) 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? College Financial aid; you can afford a college education.


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 book reviews to be helpful. Check out:

e-newsletter #22 from April, 2012
e-newsletter #17 from November, 2011

Blog Post #65 – Thoughts on getting into college

Book Review: WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU’LL BE (2015, Grand Central Publishing) – by NY TIMES columnist Frank Bruni.

The essential message here for all college bound high school students and families echoes important pathways to a healthy college search experience.

Theme: College admission is not a zero sum game with winners and losers but a small step in a lifelong process.

Bruni quote (page 8-9): “A yes or no from ???? or ??? or ??? is seen as the conclusive measure of a young person’s worth, a binding verdict on the life he/she has led to that point , an uncontestable harbinger…Winner or loser, this is when the judgment is made. ..What madness. What nonsense.”

Echo: Dr. Michael Thompson’s seminal piece “College Admission as a failed rite of passage” (NAIS, 1997) expands on this argument to include parents. Admission to a certain college is not an assessment of your worth as a parent nor is it a measure of your son/daughter’s worth as a person. (www.parentsassociation.com/college/failed_rite.html)

Theme: College is what you put into it.

Bruni (page 27): Sociologist D. Michael Lindsay’s (2014) Platinum Study studied 550 US leaders; CEOs, Presidents of not-for-profits, US Presidents & other government leaders. Finding? The group of undergraduate colleges attended by these accomplished leaders was highly diverse and showed no pattern, no Ivy league bias.

Echo: When the average rate of graduation after SIX years is around 55%, clearly we should be doing a better job of matching students with colleges.

Theme: Graduate school is more important than undergraduate school.

Bruni  (page 140): A 2011 study by Alan Kruger (Princeton Economics professor) & Stacy Daly (analyst with Mathematics Policy Research) analyzed the income earned by graduates of less than famous colleges/universities who had applied to more prestigious institutions. Finding? No difference in lifetime income.

Echo: SATs roughly track future income. Or, as Alan Krueger said in explaining his research, (Bruni, page 140): “A good student can get a good education just about anywhere.”

 

Next blog posting? Tips for making 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 Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .


Many readers have found my articles on how the college search puts stress on the entire family to be helpful. Check out:

e-newsletter #22 from April, 2012
e-newsletter #29 from November, 2012

Blog Post #64 – Thoughts on getting into college

A revolution in college admissions.

What?

In the spring of 2016, a group of the elite colleges in America (it is called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success) will introduce a template for an approach to applying to college which is designed to span the entire four years of high school.

Who?

The coalition has limited itself to membership for college/universities which have a six year graduation rate of at least 70%. At the moment, there are about 80 college/universities in the coalition; including all of the eight Ivy league colleges. (a total of 140 college/universities meet the 70% graduation rate cut-off.)

Why?

Short answer: Dissatisfaction with the one-size-fits-all limitations of the Common Application that many schools use today. In theory, the Common Application increases access to college by easing the paperwork to be completed. With some important exceptions, an applicant need only fill out the Common application once, and his/her information is distributed to as many college/universities as needed. There are now 625 colleges included in the common application.

Long answer: Unease with the fact that currently, the college search process has an intensity and exclusivity that sorts out “winners” and “losers” without regard to educational value or equity of access.
Two examples:

  • for many of the colleges in the Coalition the admissions office rejects thousands of highly qualified applicants.
  • the early decision option was originally designed to offer an option for a student for whom one college/university was a clear first choice. It has become a way of “gaming” the admissions process that forces teenagers to select a college months before beginning classes.

What?

The coalition envisions a process that takes four years ; the entire span of high school. Planning a high school course-of-study in eighth grade with an eye toward college admission will be hugely helpful to students from under-served communities.

Beginning in the spring of 2016, students may easily access information and videos about colleges in the Coalition via an online platform.

An application portfolio format is designed to be assembled and stored over four years beginning with the class entering as freshmen in the fall of 2021.

Good news?

The four year window makes the college search more of an educational endeavor and less like applying to an exclusive club.

Why should you pay attention?

Anytime the Ivy league admissions offices speak as a group, we all should listen. The colleges that can afford access will democratize the college admissions game.

This is smart business, too. Increasing access while expanding the process will strengthen the applicant pool of the colleges that can afford it (college/universities in the coalition must commit to meeting 100% each family’s financial need).

Will these reforms spread to all college/universities?

Will it be an exclusive benefit only to those who apply to members of the Coalition?

Stay tuned.

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 Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .


Many readers have found my articles on how the college search puts stress on the entire family to be helpful. Check out:

e-newsletter #29 from November, 2012
e-newsletter #43 from February, 2014

Blog Post #63 – Thoughts on getting into college

Is Early Decision (ED) right for you?

A high school student beginning the senior year is presented with a confusing array of choices. Early decision? Early Action? Rolling admissions? As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive colleges and universities continue to search for a variety of ways to gather applicants. A savvy consumer would be wise to learn as much as possible about the myriad paths for application to each college to which he/she is applying.

Early decision is the most common alternate path for your application. Originally designed by a number of elite private colleges in order to facilitate the enrollment of as many “top shelf” applicants as soon as possible, early decision has attracted some controversy lately.

But first, how does it work? As the name suggests, the application deadline and the admission decision itself is sooner than an application to the regular applicant pool. All application materials need to be submitted by November 1st of the senior year. The response from the Admissions Office arrives before the Christmas holidays as compared to early April for candidates who use the traditional application path.

The Early Decision path requires the student to make the selection of a college by the end of the junior year. Why? Grades considered by the Admissions Committee will be end-of-the year grades from junior year. Likewise, if the SATs or ACTs are to be taken a second time, that should happen in the spring of the junior year. It follows that teacher references should be solicited from junior year teachers.

A student may apply Early Decision to only one college and if accepted, the applicant is obligated to attend. Benefits are many for the applicant as well as for the college. The student is making a statement, loud and clear, that this college is his/her first choice. The college will know sooner how successful it will be in filling its openings and the applicant has the benefit of getting an answer months before most applicants.

There is some controversy. Does Early Decision force the student to make a “first choice” judgment too soon developmentally? After all, the determination to apply early decision will almost certainly be made at the end of the junior year, as much as fifteen months before the beginning of freshman year in college.

Be an educated consumer. You’ll be glad you did.

Next blog posting? How to 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 Graduate School of Education. He can be reached through his informative website www.collegesearchnow.net .