ARTICLES, BLOGS & VIDEOS

The latest news, trends and information to help you with your recruiting efforts.

Posted October 04, 2007 by

The Transfer Timeline

Planning to transfer to a four-year college or university? This timeline will help you keep track of what you need to do–and when you need to do it!

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Posted November 15, 2006 by

Applying to College : No Easy Task

Examine an application – Just see what is required to click that submit button. I understand universities need the information to make distinctions and decisions. However, the complexity of the application is often difficult if not impossible for students to complete without the proper guidance.
Realize that well meaning school counselors are often spread too thin and universities recommending the students’ independence want them to do it alone. Some colleges do suggest support and guidance, but from whom and how? The fact is that many students do not know all the current application requirements, options, statistics or what universities want to know. Reading any university website on what the school wants, clearly demonstrates the vague nature of how admission officials make their decisions. There are factors in admission that change from year to year. What are the different ways to apply? Early Decision, Early Action, Restrictive First Choice Early Action? Rolling Admissions? Who is explaining this in the high schools? Most recently Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia eliminated their Early Plans for the Class of 2012. How do students become aware of such news?
Other factors students must know when applying to college include standardized tests – what tests to take where and when? And how to prepare…About 720 universities in the United States don’t even require tests. What are the differences in the requirements? Who takes the ACT? SATI? Which universities require the SAT Subject Exams and how many of these? Are they optional? required? Students also need to know how to register for the exams. High schools generally do not provide these answers. The counselors can, at times help but with ratios at nearly 500 to 1, their time is extremely limited. Recently, I had one of my seniors request a senior college prep packet at his high school only to hear, “We don’t have one.” I compliment Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application who continually works toward a commonality in this complicated maze. However, look at the number of supplements and additional essays required by schools on the common application. www.commonapp.org. Just how common are these applications anyway?
Then there are those recommendations – how many and for which school? Who should I give them to? What should I include? Should I send the universities supplemental recommendations? When should I submit them? What should I fill out? Do I waive my right to see them? These are just a few of the questions I get from students all the time. There are also Midyear Reports. Many students have never seen this before. What do I do with them?
There’s the Brag Sheet or list of extracurricular activities and honors and awards received in high school. Students need to know how to present those. Students want to know how to best state their activities and who should get this list. One of my students recently gave me a near twenty page extracurricular list answering numerous excellent and specific questions. Unquestionably, this gives any reader a clear sense of this student. However, who would read this at the university level. Students are given approximately seven short lines to list years of experience and accomplishments. They are entitled to know how to maximize this space.
Essay questions are a significant source of concern to students. Just what are these admission officers looking for? Although many universities do give a “topic of your choice” there are those questions that are amazingly specific – quoting legendary philosophers that have students decipher the content and then connect it all on a personal level. To do all this in anywhere from 100 to 600 words depending on the institution is yet an additional skill. We hear too that essays should be in story format, creative and wonderfully intriguing. Most recently, I heard an admission officer state that they often read the 1st and last paragraph and then decide whether or not to read the rest. Students generally do not learn to write 1st person essays like this in high school. Realize too that many applications require 3 to 4 essays…some long, some short – but nevertheless all different.
High school athletes also need guidance regarding NCAA rules and requirements – how and when to contact coaches and where to go for information.
If universities are requesting and requiring all these components, students are entitled to know what to do and what it all means. As long as most schools do not provide the adequate guidance, admissions remains a complicated process. Competition for select spots continues to increase along with the need and demand for private college consultants.

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Posted November 15, 2006 by

Why Distance Counseling Works

Isn’t it true that when admission officers evaluate student applications they really don’t know the student? Other than the interview that some colleges offer, acceptance decisions are based on a written document, the application. For students to portray themselves in the best light, their GPA’s, test scores, essays and recommendations must paint the best possible picture. In addition to local students, I am currently working with students and families in 16 states and 5 countries internationally. This number is increasing nearly daily. I counsel online, on the phone and via fax. If I can get a clear picture of a student based on all their data without the face to face meetings, then it is likely that admissions officers will also. The fact is that distance counseling is a test for the real thing.
I do see many students face to face when possible and always enjoy knowing them personally. However, the demand for guidance is so widespread that to accommodate more students, distance counseling is necessary. The forerunner, online learning, indicates how fast online education is growing and how successful it is. The Sloan Consortium, a group of colleges pursuing online programs, estimates that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than the year before, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Students, too, are extremely comfortable with the distance format. Between their personal web pages, text and emails, online communication is a comfort zone .Many young people are more comfortable communicating online.
Many university applications are going paperless within the next few years. Numerous professors post assignments, readings and syllabus online. High schools are using programs where students receive online report cards. Electronic communication is the M generation’s way. Online college applications, passwords, pin numbers, secret questions to login are all very standard. Many face to face counseling meetings are conducted in front of a computer.
It is likely that college applications will become even more unique in the coming years. I easily guide all my distance students to present applications that are unique and perhaps explore creative possibilities in photo uploads, displaying computer graphic skills, musical backgrounds and links to personal pages. All this reveals much about the student.
So many of my high school and transfer students have such busy schedules, that they prefer connecting with me online rather than face to face. Between homework, jobs, athletic activities and other extracurriculars, they like communicating at the end of the day with their questions and input online.
By the time my students submit their applications, I have a strong feeling for who they are having worked with them to extract their strengths. In saying all this and if you have read this far, I have a note for parents. I hear things like, “I want my child to know their counselor”. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. I urge you to keep in mind, to realize and accept that this is a new high tech generation that is more than comfortable with distance counseling.
Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.
IECA Professional Member
NACAC Professional Member
www.college-connections.com

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Posted November 03, 2006 by

Full Blown College Admissions Frenzy

It becomes instantaneously obvious once anyone starts examing the plethora of requirements necessary to apply to college these days, that it is an amazingly complex and overwhelming process. Combine that fact with the many who are limited English speakers and first generation in their family to attend college that must weed through the requirements of this process with little or no guidance. Add in the mix the over programmed teen who, on top of monumental amounts of homework, extracurricular activities and perhaps a job must now apply to an average of a dozen universities just to assure acceptance into a college during the most competitive admissions cycle in history. Just examining last seasons percentage of admits at selective universities will verify this fact. http://www.college-connections.com/collegelinks.htm
There are those who continue to bombard the independent college consultant in their private efforts to guide these students. Their services invariably improve family relations and reduces stress. In addition, nearly all independent counselors take pro bono students. The simple truth is that thousands of students are not getting the guidance they need. Certainly there are countless effective counselors in schools across the country, but the counselor to student ratio is exorbitant. Some school counselors manage as many as 500 students. Add the vast amounts of additional jobs many of these counselors have including but not limited to scheduling, monitoring social behavior and writing recommendations. Many have job titles that include “guidance counselor”. How many times have I heard students say, “My counselor doesn’t know me” and then there are those students who don’t even know if their schools even have a college counselor. Universities have specific requirements for admittance. Yet, thousands get to their senior year without the necessary courses due to lack of guidance. These counselors simply cannot handle the large enrollments and it’s no surprise, as the schools are significantly under budgeted. Yes, there are those independent schools that manage well, whose ratio of counselor to students is 10:1, where students’ curriculums are reviewed and carefully managed. However, so many of these families still seek outside help for their college admission process.
The angst and anxiety of the college admissions process has reached new levels. Words like “admission frenzy” and “gaming the system” are all over the media. As a result, some of the top universities have eliminated early plans to try and quiet the storm. Private college consultants have become as necessary as any psychologist. Yet, how many psychologists do as much pro bono work as college consultants? Educational business is not a dirty word. Other factors driving the admissions intensity are the universities themselves. The business of college admissions is at an all time high. Large budgets are allocated for enrollment management divisions. Thousands of dollars are directed at recruiting students and encouraging more and more applications because it then can make the university look more selective. Just last week on one of my professional online digests was a request from a top admission official for marketing suggestions concerning online banner placements. College websites are huge business and placement of ads equally as important. After all, these are tremendous recruitment tools and yield does increase that U.S. News Ranking. Other factors driving the frenzy are undoubtedly the “helicopter” parent population. Many parents push their kids to the absolute limit to achieve what they didn’t and still hold beliefs that the way to a successful, secure future is through a top tier school – not necessarily so. Many state universities are notorious for having produced some of the most successful and influential people in the world. Peer pressure is added to this mix, creating anxious turmoil. The average number of senior applications is estimated at 12 to 15 schools per students. Last week at a selective independent school in Los Angeles, a nervous 9th grade parent group was encouraged to not think about college plans just yet.
Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.
IECA, Professional member
NACAC, Professional Member
www.college-connections.com

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