Who Cares about College Rankings?

November 8, 2018

Quite frankly, I am sick of college rankings. If it isn’t U.S. News, it’s Forbes, Money or endless other publications ranking what they consider the best colleges and universities.  The college rankings can tell us anything from the most connected schools to the best value universities. These college rankings measure different attributes that may or may not be important to a family when they are considering schools for their child. Often they are more confusing than helpful.

Many college rankings are oversimplified and downright unfair. They can be the result of professors, students, or even the universities themselves answering questionnaires that have been sent to them by a magazine or newspaper.  Many times college administrators are asked to evaluate colleges with which they have no knowledge, not just their own school.

Rankings often lead to misleading conclusions. Some colleges will spend money to improve something that will help their ranking, but may not benefit the students at all. Many use college rankings in their marketing materials.  These rankings often ignore factors that are of concern to prospective students.  Too frequently, they contain the same schools over and over.

As a private college counselor, I pay very little attention to these rankings because I want my students to consider colleges that are right for them. The highest ranked schools may not be the best fit or a college where they will have a successful academic and social experience. That to me is what is far more important than any ranking.

 

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What Can A College Admissions Consultant Do For You?

April 24, 2018

Most families would agree that the college application and admissions process is both stressful and overwhelming. There are so many questions parents and students face when trying to find the right colleges. They can be equally confused with the different applications, deadlines and required information for financial aid and scholarships. Unfortunately, most high school counselors do not have the time to devote to these matters. Some families think that a college admission consultant is out of their budget, but many don’t realize that in the end, they usually save money because they have received the guidance and correct information to make the right decisions. This is what a college admissions consultant can do for your student and family.

1.   Individual help most students do not receive in high school

2.   Availability for your child and family when you need it

3.   Expertise in the college admission process 

4.   Decreased family stress and more peace of mind. Try to eliminate parental nagging about college applications.

5.   Specific knowledge of colleges, their admission requirements and SAT and ACT testing updates

6.   Get help from an objective third party to brainstorm and read applications and college essays

7.   Gain a competitive edge in the college admission process

8.   College visits that provide first-hand knowledge of schools and their suitability for different students

9.   Save money ​by helping your child enroll in one college, stay there, and graduate in four years.

10. Increased financial aid and scholarship opportunities

Look for the College Fit, Not the Ranking

April 4, 2018

For many high school juniors, college planning has begun. This, of course, includes the college search. College Direction suggests that students put rankings at the bottom of their considerations and concentrate on researching schools that are a good fit for them. This fit should includes academic, financial and social as well. Rankings just add to the hype surrounding college admissions and rarely have little to do with the educational experience a student will receive. When College Direction is researching schools for a student, we are much more concerned with the undergraduate experience and the four-year graduation rates at different schools. To find colleges with the best fit, students should do some self-reflection and write down a list of qualities they consider important when choosing a school. The colleges they choose to explore more completely should have as many of these qualities as possible.

 

 

 

Do I Need an Educational Consultant?

February 13, 2018

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) recommends that high school counselors work with no more than 100 students.  Most public high school counselors have a student load of at least 350 students.  On average, high school counselors spend 38 minutes helping students with the college search, applications, and admissions process.

Educational consultants are also referred to a college consultants or college admissions counselors. They are not associated with a high school or college. They have the time, training, and expertise to provide individual attention to students with their college search, applications and essays, financial aid and scholarships, and the college admissions process.

Here are five reasons why hiring an educational consultant to work with your high school student might be the best investment you ever made:

 

  1. Educational consultants understand the college admissions process and visit colleges and universities regularly to discover what makes one school different from another. They meet with college admissions officers at each school so they know about the continuous changes that take place on individual campuses.

 

  1. Educational consultants help your student find colleges that are a good fit, not just a big name. They want your student to be successful in the college admissions process and to have a variety of schools from which to choose. They know that students have been bombarded with all kinds of information from schools. After a while, each college begins to look and sound alike.  They help families separate the hype from the facts.

 

  1. Educational consultants are able to work successfully with your student because they do not have the emotional investment that parents do. They provide reliable college information and objective advice. They give your family another opinion and try to make the college admissions process as stress-free as possible.

 

  1. Educational consultants know that applying to college and college admissions can be a time for students to discover themselves. Students learn to assess their strengths and weaknesses. They determine what it is they want out of a college experience.  This helps them with the college search and encourages students to make better college decisions.

 

  1. Educational consultants assist students with their applications and essays. They brainstorm topics that will enable your student to write the most compelling essays that will strengthen their applications. They encourage students to consider topics that have real meaning for them and will convey their personality to an admissions committee.

 

Many parents feel that turning to an educational consultant has been the best investment they could make.

 

 

 

College Students: Home for the Holidays

November 15, 2017

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John was used to living in the fraternity house and coming and going as he pleased. Molly lived in a dorm and enjoyed have students hanging out in her room at most times of the day and night. Both students were used to their freedom and had some confusing emotions about spending their first Thanksgiving or winter break with the family. Most parents are excited to see their college kids and hope to spend some “quality time” together.  Many kids have their own ideas. They have been away for months and want to just “hang” as they do in college. More than likely, you are anticipating the holidays to be different than they are.

 

While you might suggest they catch up on their sleep, they will be eager to take off and enjoy some “quality” time with their friends. Even though they have probably been texting them regularly, it’s just not the same as seeing them in person.

 

What’s a parent to do? Here are a few tips to make the holidays a less stressful time with your college kids and enjoyable for everyone:

 

  1. Let your kids know that you are excited to have them home and that you really want them to enjoy their time while they are there. Ask what they would like to do while they are at home and what kind of family activities they may be up for. Face the fact that holidays are stressful and don’t count on things going perfectly.

 

  1. Talk with your kids about their semester and show an interest in their college life so that grades are not the only area about which you appear to care. Ask questions that don’t have yes or no answers and don’t sound like you are interrogating them. This can be stressful for both of you.

 

  1. Talk about family rules that you have always had, but discuss them calmly and be willing to compromise a little. Tell them that you would like to know about their plans so that you don’t schedule something that might conflict. Let them know that you expect them to answer their cell phone if you need to text or call.

 

  1. Tell your kids that you respect their new independence and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Explain, however, that with independence comes responsibility and you hope to see that at home as well as when they are away at school. This includes drinking, driving and using good judgment.

 

  1. Deal with the messy room, sleeping till noon, and the frenzy of friends in and out. Relax a little and remember the holiday break only lasts for a few weeks. Of course, this is not the way you want to live all the time, but sometimes to maintain your sanity it is best to let some things go. Your college kids will appreciate it and it will do a lot to make the holidays less stressful.

 

 

Test Prep for the SAT and ACT – What You Don’t Know May Hurt You

September 14, 2017

Since the SAT and ACT are important criteria for college admissions, you should not assume that your student can take these tests with no preparation.  Test scores can make or break a student’s chances for college acceptance and scholarships.  Most experts believe that a good test prep course can help to improve students’ SAT and ACT scores.  Here are 5 tips to find a good SAT and ACT test prep course near you:

 

  1. The teaching is most important. Most test prep courses offer similar information, but a good course will have a teacher who can motivate the students.  The course should be taught by an experienced test prep coach, not a high school teacher or someone who has only scored high on the SAT and ACT.

 

  1. The test prep course should be affordable. There is no reason why parents need to spend $1000 for a test prep course.  Paying more does not make a course better nor does a big name make it more effective.  Parents should contact local, small test prep companies and inquire about what they offer before they sign up for another SAT or ACT course.

 

  1. Students should practice and take real tests. Students should only take test prep courses that utilize tests that are published by the College Board and the ACT.  Practice should also be done on real tests.  This helps students to know exactly what to expect and makes for a less stressful experience.  What good is practice if you are not using the real thing?

 

  1. The test prep course should focus on content and strategies. Parents should inquire about whether a test prep course focuses on test-taking strategies or also includes practice materials with review and explanations.  Students need to understand the content of the test, but they also need to know how to approach each part of the test and some test-taking techniques that will help them improve their scores.

 

  1. A test prep course should fit the needs of your child. Is the test prep course small enough to be beneficial? A course should include no more than 8-10 students.  Does it take too much time away from homework and other activities?  Students should spend only as much time as they need and once a week classes should be sufficient.  Will your student learn how to handle anxiety and gain confidence?  Stress relieving practices should be introduced and practiced.

 

Parents should always read the fine print of any test prep course.  There are no score guarantees in spite of what you may be told.  Students are usually given the opportunity to retake the course, but parents do not receive their money back.

Small improvements in test scores can make a difference in college admissions.  That’s why test prep can contribute to the overall success of a student’s chances for college acceptance and merit scholarships.

 

Why Hire a College Admissions Consultant?

August 18, 2017

Here are nine reasons why your family could benefit from using a college admissions consultant:

  1. They are experts in the college admission process and visit colleges and universities extensively every year to determine the unique qualities in each school.
  2. They help students with the college search and are not just interested in brand name schools, but want to find colleges that fit your student’s academic, personal and financial needs.
  3. They do not have an emotional attachment to your child and this allows them to provide unbiased, professional advice.
  4. They get to know students on a personal basis which enables them to help students become stronger college applicants.
  5. They help provide direction for students on their applications and essays. This assures students that they are adhering to deadlines set by their high school and colleges.
  6. They assist students and families in finding schools that are affordable. They also provide information on financial aid and scholarships.
  7. They are not limited in the number of hours they can work with students. This allows them to be available when students need them, with the answers they need.
  8. They want to help students find colleges that are committed to seeing their students graduate in four years, rather than the usual five, six or more. This can save parents a considerable amount of money.
  9. They are members of professional organizations like the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and Independent Educational Consultants (IECA). College admission consultants attend state and national conferences to continue their professional development.

Most college admission consultants charge affordable fees and are very generous with their time. Many families believe that hiring an independent educational consultant is the best investment they have made.

7 Things To Do After You Send In Your Acceptance Letter

May 15, 2017

You’ve sent in your deposit to the college you want to attend. But, you’re not done yet. Here are some things you should think about.

Peterson's Blog

VictoryYou’ve received your college acceptances, and you’ve sent back out a letter to your college of choice – you’ve finally ended the admissions process! You have your college! You know where you’re headed next year! It’s an amazing feeling!

So…what should you do next?

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What Are My Chances on the Wait-List?

April 9, 2017

I have been amazed at the number of high school seniors who have been wait-listed from colleges and universities and get their hopes up that they will eventually get in. Sometimes wait-lists have more than 3,000 students on them. Sometimes colleges never even go to their wait-list. Believe me, these are students with the grades, test scores and other credentials to make them very competitive for admissions at these schools.  The biggest issue for many kids is that it puts them in limbo and unable to emotionally commit to a school. My advice to most students is to send an email to the college if you are still interested and convey this to them. Let them know that if you are accepted, you will come.  If you receive any awards, improved test scores, or anything else to support your application, email or fax it to the college admissions officials.  But keep your other options open because you do  need to make a final college decision, with a deposit, by May 1st.

Senior Grades are Important for College Admissions

February 21, 2017

Some students believe that once they have been accepted to college, they can relax and not worry about their grades anymore. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Most colleges request both first and second semester grades.  They also expect students to take all of the courses they have listed on their college applications. Colleges are sending a message that they have no problem turning down an applicant in in the summer who has slacked off the second semester.  They always have a waitlist with students who have worked hard until graduation.