• Academic Planning – Now??

    May 25, 2012 by

    It’s easy to get so busy with day-to-day demands that you forget to take a step back and consider the big picture. This time of year, for instance, your current academic course load might be so demanding that it’s hard to take a break to think about your overall academic goals and your graduation plan. Figuring out what you want to do in your future—whether that’s the near future of next year’s course selection or the further-out future of a post-college career—can be challenging because there are so many options. Figuring out how to prioritize and manage the steps on the path to your future can be even more challenging: What are the options? What are the requirements? What requirements have changed? How do other factors—study abroad semesters, independent study classes, internship opportunities, etc.—affect the overall plan? Continue Reading

  • In Support of Private College Consultants

    November 17, 2006 by

    What is an independent educational consultant?
    “Independent educational consultants are skilled professionals who provide counseling to help student and family choose a college, university or other program that is a good personal match: one that will foster this particular student’s academic and social growth. Educational consultants can provide a student and family with individual attention, first hand knowledge of hundreds of educational opportunities, and the time to explore all of the options. An independent counselor works one-on-one with students and parents to develop a thorough, carefully researched and appropriate school and/or college search, and guide the student through every step of the process.”
    Many argue that independent college consulting is a luxury many cannot afford. Within the four professional organizations I currently belong, I have yet to meet a private counselor who doesn’t work on a sliding scale or in fact for free if it necessitates. After being in schools for twenty-five years, it’s obvious that the potpourri of jobs any counselor has doesn’t give students the focus and assistance they need in both understanding and filling out college applications. School counselors are often excellent and well qualified. It’s just that they are part of a system that has an average ration of 500 students to every counselor.
    A recent Boston Globe article discusses the possibility of a potential check box where students would have to indicate to universities if they were receiving outside help to complete their college applications. I wholeheartedly disagree with this concept. Privacy issues are of ultimate concern everywhere in everything. What families and students choose to do is personal. Do universities tell the public what they are doing behind closed doors? I think not. Not to imply that anything is being done they wouldn’t publicize. However, it is the right of every admission officer to keep their information private. There is nothing unethical about keeping this information private. Qualified private counselors assist students and do not do work for them. I know that myself, along with many colleagues will answer questions for students with no charge.
    “The Independent Educational Consultants Association has seen its membership triple since 1996, and expects continued growth in the coming years. There are now approximately 4,000 independent counselors nationwide. . . . ‘Of the 260,000 [high school] graduates last year who went to private colleges, 58,000 worked with consultants, representing 22 percent of the freshman class in these schools.”
    The business of education is widely recognized and accepted. Qualified independent college consultants must be a respected option as are life coaches, psychologists and physical trainers to mention a few. After all, college consultants all have the same goals in mind – that of placing students in the best educational environment to meet their needs and have them gain knowledge and achieve happiness and success.

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  • The College Application Essay

    by

    I’m looking at the other side of college essays – not the side the admission officers see, but the side the students write, what they write and how they say it. So often we see guidelines on how to write the college essay. Directions like put it in the first person, make it creative, start with a grabber, finish strong, talk about you and do this all in anywhere from 100 to 500 words. Consultants, counselors and English teachers are the ones who read them in their infancy, the rough stage, just when the thoughts are brewing. What I have seen and read is more authentic than the finished version on the applications. For the most part these are 17 year olds who have been taught in school how to write in the 3rd person, about the other thing and rarely about themselves. So, first there is the need to overcome that teenage insecurity, be humble, yet boast, sound confident and do all that in respectable English. I overlook the slang and instant messaging language so prevalent and work with students on extracting what I find so appealing about them. They all have it – that appealing thing. For some it is simply the way their closet looks and for others it is their personal experience of sitting together at a family meal. The good news is that these students are willing to open up with someone like me knowing that I do not evaluate, judge, grade or accept or deny them. It is an honorable and trusted relationship. I suppose what I see is what many admission officers would like to – the rough cut so to speak. Unquestionably, once student essays have been revised, edited and polished several times, they take on a new more formal look. Colleges are attempting to get the right look at students. University of Michigan for example is attempting to have students think “outside the box” by posing ethical dilemma questions like, “Describe a setback or ethical dilemma that you have faced. How did you resolve it? How did the outcome affect you? If something similar happened in the future, how would you react?” Tufts is taking a more scientific approach to student essays and applications by hiring their dean, a psychologist to work on evaluations, “The first question might not sound so different than those on a typical application essay, but this year’s questions will be designed and evaluated based on psychological research. Tufts officials hope to better identify future leaders and predict college grades.” So, even before the final essays get submitted, I am thoroughly impressed by the rough drafts – their subject matter, written quality, determination and yes immaturity of the students writing. I’m grateful I see that first draft. It is authentic, the truth and apparently what the universities want.

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