2013-2014 Common App Essay Questions Released

Not sure what all the hype was about? Read more here!


Financial Planning for College

Great article by Rachel Louise Ensign in the Wall Street Journal. Parents of college-bound students as well as those a more than a few years out from starting the process should give this article a read! Starting to think about college costs early on is crucial in setting up your finances in a way that won’t hurt you come FAFSA time.

How to Pick a College Admissions Consultant.

I tend to agree with what is presented here. I think when you meet for the first time you will either say, “this is someone I can work with”….or not. Don’t ever feel pressured into making the decision on the spot, either – any quality consultant will give you time to get to know them and their work/work style (within reason) and let you decide when it is right for you – no pressure! Professional memberships are also a strong indicator of someone with reputable experience.

Tips from CollegeWise I Can Stand Behind

Here are five expert tips from Weiner to keep in mind to give students even more college options for when they apply, whether it’s next year or several years down the road:  

1.  It’s never too late to improve.
“If you believe your current GPA is not a good representation of how well you can really do, start improving now. It’s almost certainly not too late. Colleges will look closely at your junior year performance, and many will even take the first semester of your senior year into account.   They’ll particularly pay attention to a trend of improvement. Don’t give up.  Show them that you are a late bloomer and getting better with age. Even if you’ve only got one semester left to show colleges what you’re capable of doing, show them!  Start now.”

2.  Maximize your academic strengths.
“Yes, it’s important to try hard in all your classes. But many students spend so much time trying to fix academic weaknesses that they forget to make the most of their innate strengths. If you’ve always liked history, take more demanding history courses. Take a Civil War or other history class over the summer at a local community college. Colleges aren’t just looking at your overall GPA – they’re always looking for signs of an academic spark in particular areas.”  

3.  Work, Intern – or Volunteer.
“Summer jobs or internships are great opportunities to learn new skills, network and beef up your college resume. February and March are not too soon to start trying to find work for this coming summer. If you can afford to intern unpaid, you might be able to get more cerebral and impressive experience, so call local law firms, publishers, radio stations and offer to work for free. If you need the cash, there is nothing wrong with babysitting, cleaning or painting neighbors’ houses, or flipping burgers. You can demonstrate responsibility, a strong work ethic and the ability to juggle and fulfill commitments – and make some money for college. One of the best things you can do this summer is help your community. Most charities need help and are more than willing to work around your schedule. Call the Sierra Club, Ronald McDonald House, whatever meets your interest. Volunteer work is challenging and rewarding – and, yes, it looks great on college applications. By the way, working and volunteering are not mutually exclusive, and doing both is impressive to anyone taking a look at your qualifications.”

4.  Take responsibility for your academic performance.
“I see a lot of students who try to blame other people for their own academic shortcomings, saying things like, ‘I got a D because my teacher didn’t like me.’ Colleges don’t want students who make excuses. If you haven’t done as well as you’d like to in high school, admit it and be honest about why that happened.  Show colleges you’ve learned from your mistakes by admitting fault and turning your performance around immediately. Colleges will be impressed by the maturity you show when you take responsibility for your actions and do what it takes to change.”    

5.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Many of the students who earn the best grades are the same ones who aren’t afraid to admit when they just don’t get it. There’s no shame in asking for help. So if you didn’t understand a single syllable in your trigonometry class today, ask the teacher after class. If you studied really hard and still did poorly on your chemistry test, meet with your teacher and try to find out where you went wrong – and how to do better. If you’re having trouble in a number of your classes and think you might need to make some changes or get tutoring, talk with your counselor and get his or her advice.  Students who are willing to ask for extra help when they need it are the ones who are eager to learn and who impress teachers, counselors and colleges.”


Bridging The Gap!

Bridging the gap between what’s available at high schools and what’s truly required to match the level of competitiveness for admission to top-tier and elite universities – this is what independent  consultants do!

Jason Ma, who is now a contributor at Forbes.com, wrote a great piece that reflects the essence of what independent consultant do and I suggest that everyone gives it a read here.

Here’s a snapshot:

“I believe in guiding students holistically — including the enhancement of their belief system and leadership skills, as well as their essay writing by helping them reflect on their experiences…and find their own voice.

Parents can and do provide some or much of the adult influences, but it is also important to have perspectives from outside the family that come from their teachers (if they have the time) or from other advisors who truly care about developing the whole person.

I also find that longer-term planning during the middle school and earlier phases of the high school years can help successfully prepare for college and a lifetime of leadership.”