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It’s that time of year again. School holidays are coming up: Spring Break, Easter Break. Time for high school juniors to explore college campuses. As a college consultant, I am frequently asked how to plan and optimize college visits. So here are some key steps:

1. Decide which schools to visit. With the help of your guidance counselor or an independent consultant, you and your high school student need to be developing an initial college list. The criteria for selection should include: type of institution (public, private, university, liberal arts college, technical institute, arts conservatory); academic and extracurricular programs offered; affordability (public, private, merit scholarship availability); size; setting (urban, suburban, rural); geography and distance from home; diversity; and academic, political, cultural and social atmosphere. Read More…

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graduate-rearview-mirror-645x400As a college admissions consultant, I am well acquainted with the stress that families experience focused on that pivotal point in a young person’s life when the “fat envelope” signals acceptance to college. I joyfully share their excitement and collective sigh of relief, as a significant milestone is reached and that particular struggle is in the rearview mirror. However, I know that this milestone is only one of many in a young adult’s higher education and career journey. As I have mentioned in “High School Seniors: Looking Toward College” and “Freshman Year of College: Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire,” the challenge of succeeding in life has just begun.

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Updated 1/20/2015. 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.

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Updated 1/20/15: When my son was a high school sophomore years ago, we kept wondering what, if anything, we should be doing to help him prepare for college. In retrospect, let me share ten essential things parents can do for 10th graders:

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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 months 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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