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Most college freshmen will experience an avalanche of initiatory rites beginning in mid-August. Some attend orientation programs earlier in the summer, depending on the university’s structure. For many, this is the first time they will set foot on campus since their first tour over a year ago.

The edge of a great beginning. Here’s what to expect!

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As a college admissions consultant, I often hear parents and their teens ask at the end of junior year, “What can we be doing during the summer to prepare for the crazy fall ahead?” This blog post lays out five answers to that crucial question.

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fratboyarrivesYour high school senior has been accepted to college. Although you may be dealing with the annoying symptoms of senioritis, you are beginning to sigh with relief because you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The draining, nerve-wracking college application process is over, and you are in the midst of prom, planning for commencement, family celebrations, and some well-deserved R&R this summer.

It’s great to take a deep breath, but not for long. As I discussed in my post, “Freshman Year of College: Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire,” the challenges of high school end in the foothills of the next mountain your teen has to climb. Your son or daughter is about to embark on the most exciting but also, perhaps, the most difficult, journey of his or her life so far: freshman year of college. Read More…

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COLLEGE MOVE-IN is around the corner. Where to start? As a college admissions consultant, I not only like to see my young clients get into their first choice college, but also be prepared to move into college as well. I annually update a college checklist for my soon-to-be freshman families.

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What have I done!?We have been informed that the Common Application 2014-15 will retain the five personal statement essay prompts introduced in last year’s CA4, which famously were more “personal” than prompts of previous years, and omitted the age-old standby, “topic of your choice.” CA4′s personal statement essay will continue to have a 250 word minimum and a 650 word maximum. In this post, I will discuss how to approach these essay prompts.

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interviewonlineMost colleges and universities today do not require evaluative admissions interviews, but many at least “highly encourage” interviews (i.e., U Rochester, Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Barnard, Rice), either for all applicants or for honors college (i.e., Penn State Schreyers), scholarships (i.e., Emory, Vanderbilt, Elon), or other elite programs. Admissions officers understand, however, that many applicants do not have the time or money to travel great distances to be interviewed face-to-face. Therefore, Internet technology, such as Skype™, is being used increasingly in the admissions process (i.e., Wake Forest, Pitzer, Hendrix, Oberlin, Bryn Mawr, Franklin & Marshall, Drew, to name a few). I can only imagine that the practice of using Skype for college interviewing will grow, as it has for graduate school programs and employers in recent years.

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January of Junior Year. You just got a notice from your 11th Grader’s guidance counselor that parents are strongly encouraged to attend upcoming “Junior College Night”. They want you to know it’s time to get serious about your kid’s college future.

What to expect? Depends on your school, but most likely it will include a perspective on today’s college application process, how it differs from “back in the day.” Why has the process become so competitive (therefore stressful)? S. P. Springer et al, authors of Admission Matters: What Students and Parents Need to Know About Getting Into College, identify three factors: the “echo” boom (or baby boomlet), social changes, and the internet.

1. “Echo” boom. “More high school graduates than ever are competing for seats in the freshman class…In 1997, there were 2.6 million graduates…by 2009, the number of high school graduates had grown to 3.3 million…they are projected to stay at or above 3.2 million at least until 2022.” (p. 2). This demographic explosion explains, at the simplest level, why you were accepted at “Ivy U”, but despite playing Mozart for your kid in the womb and sending him to the best schools, he may find himself edged out of yesterday’s most prestigious colleges. What you viewed as “second tier” may be regarded as a great accomplishment today.

2. Social changes. “Application numbers have grown much faster than the age cohort…Not only are there more students graduating from high school each year, proportionally more of them want to go to college. A college education is increasingly seen as the key to economic success in our society, just as a high school diploma was once the minimum requirement…At the same time, colleges themselves have increased their efforts to attract large, diverse pools of applicants.” (p.3).

3. Internet. Not only can students research colleges more efficiently than ever before via the Web, but online applications (e.g., Common Application) have made it easy to apply to multiple colleges. (p. 3-4). The Common Application now has over 500 member colleges and universities.

columbiaIn addition to the three factors mentioned by Springer, U.S. colleges also admit a substantial number of international students today. According to Open Doors 2013, published by the Institute of International Education, in 2012-13 ,the number of international students in the U.S. increased over seven percent to 819,644, representing almost four percent of all U.S. higher education students. Over a third of those students are undergraduates. The top three places of origin for international students studying in the U.S. are China, India, and South Korea. International students are desirable for U.S. colleges and universities not only because of their strong academic performance encouraged by the cultures from which they come, but also because they typically pay full tuition (two-thirds of higher education funding for international students in the U.S. comes from their own families).

At Northeastern U, for example, 15% of students are non-residents; at Boston University, 13%; at Columbia UniversityNYU, U Penn, and USC, for example, non-residents represent 12% of the student body. The influx of international students creates an enriching, diverse college experience for all, but the number of seats available to American students becomes more restricted each year.

Your counselor will mention some of the above factors, to manage expectations, but also will offer the comforting news that there are thousands of  accredited  four-year colleges. As Springer et al point out, “The crunch that drives the newspaper headlines and the anxiety that afflicts many families at college application time…is limited to about one hundred colleges that attract applicants from all over the country and the world and that are the most selective…” (p. 5).

You can also expect an overview of the college process in your particular high school. Your guidance counselor may ask you and your teen to fill out questionnaires that will help generate the initial college list, as well as provide input into the all-important counselor recommendation that will accompany every application. If your school is large and guidance counselors are not able to get to know students individually, your input into the counselor recommendation becomes even more critical, so don’t underestimate the importance of this task.

Your teen will be asked to create a college list, identify teachers as recommenders, perhaps fill out extra-curricular activity forms, develop a resume or “brag sheet,” depending on what your school requires. Your guidance counselor will also introduce you to Naviance (Family Connection)  a computer-based program most school districts use to help students navigate the college process. As a parent, it will be essential to pay attention to deadlines and help your teen stay on top of the process. And clear the decks for spring break–plan to be doing some campus visits!

To offer further insights, I am sharing a segment from a recent interview I did on Hometowne TV, a local access cable network based in Summit, NJ, hosted by Myung Bondy. You can find additional segments of this interview covering a number of college application topics on my YouTube.

Kris Hintz Video: “Identifying Your Target Colleges”

Related posts: Your 11th Grader’s 11 Steps to Success11th Grade Parents’ Reading List, High School Testing Strategy and Timeline, Should I Take the SAT, the ACT, or BOTH?, What Is Important to Colleges? Top Ten Factors.


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I recently created a video for my client families who have high school seniors waiting for college admissions news in December, for Early Decision or Early Action schools. My video offers encouragement and advice for those who are experiencing disappointment. Please click below to view:



For early applicants, the white-knuckle, nail-biting suspense really sets in now. That wilderness of free-floating anxiety and acceptance stress between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is such an all-or-nothing feeling, as though your kid’s entire self-worth and future destiny rests on a single online message on December 15.


As a parent, keep it in perspective, and pass on your wisdom to your student. This is not an all-or-nothing verdict. “ED” was a college enrollment invention to guarantee yield, not for families’ benefit. It is a Faustian bargain that gives applicants an acceptance advantage and early relief in the tortuous college process, in exchange for losing financial aid package choices and a longer incubation time for college exploration. “EA” was created to help admissions people spread out their workload. But the “EA” option has become attractive to applicants who do not want to commit to a school, but still desire an “insurance policy” of good news before Christmas, and it is easy to apply to Common App “EA” schools that do not require supplemental essays. Consequently, many “EA” schools become swamped with applications in November. Deferrals are sometimes the admissions people’s only choice for piles of applications they can’t even get to before Christmas. In fact, some “EA” colleges now tell applicants at their information sessions that, far from being an admissions advantage, “EA” could be a disadvantage.

Be realistic during this time period, and prepare your student for the most likely outcome. Was this university in the realistic range, perhaps a slight reach, for which the early advantage will likely compensate? Or was this school a pipe dream, a “Hail Mary Pass”, to which your teen applied early to maximize advantage but still a long shot? You probably know the answer in your heart already.

girlcryonshouldermomIf it’s a long shot, help your student put it on the back burner. Emphasize that it is only one of many options. Keep your teen working on essays for “RD” schools. If December’s decision is disappointing, your kid will not be overwhelmed by consequential application work required over the holidays before January deadlines. Help your student understand that the early game is only part of the whole college application process. If the early game does not work out, that does not mean that the college process will not work out for your son or daughter. Many applicants go back to the drawing board in January, and many more do not even apply at all until January. Help your student to take the long view: even if there are short term disappointments, by April he or she will probably be quite pleased.

Related Posts: December 15 College News: Early Decision AcceptanceDecember 15 College News: Early Action AcceptanceDecember 15 College News: Deferral or DenialCollege Acceptances and Denials: The Best and Worst Things That Could HappenThe College Process: Dealing with Rejection.

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Location, location, location! 

ohio_truckingIt’s human nature to want to live in a place that is familiar to you, which you perceive as having a caché among your peers. Problem is, when you choose a place that all your peers desire as well, whether we are talking about real estate or college admissions, that desirable location becomes harder to obtain. This post is the first in a series discussing states that boast many hidden gem schools that you may have overlooked in your college search. We begin with Ohio…

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Your high school senior is about to embark on one of the most frenzied, tense few months of his or her young life. As a college admissions consultant, I would like to offer you a month-by-month timeline for keeping your teenager on target with minimal stress. (This is a reprint of my popular 2011 post.)


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