Communicating with teenagers a/k/a Do you speak English?

Michelle Humbach
Posted at 8/23/2018

As an Independent Education Consultant, my demographic is teens. Fortunately, I love and appreciate this age and often, my faith in humanity is literally restored by a one-hour college planning session with a high school student. Occasionally, I joke that they have a heavy burden of correcting many mistakes that my generation has made. I reassure them that I’m joking, even though I’m not, really.

Teenagers are a fascinating lot and I know from my work, as well as my personal life (my children are 25, 21 and 18), communicating with them can be a little tricky, if not downright exasperating. If I had a nickel for every time I nagged at my children, I’d have a ton of nickels. My logic stems from this: if they would just do as I say the first time, there would be no need to ask (nag) again. This factoid will make zero sense to them until they become parents.

I’m also keenly aware of the plight and suffering that can befall college freshmen. It’s not enough to be intellectually colleg...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance
  • teenagers
  • high school student
  • parents of high school students
  • communication
  • gen Z
  • successful launch
  • ready for college

What Kind of Prep Will Raise My 34 ACT Composite to a 36?

Lessa Scherrer
Posted at 5/6/2018

Your prep should include deep analysis of what types of questions you’re missing and then practice of those, particularly in your “lower” sections. I find the ACT Black Book to be very helpful in this kind of analysis. It’s a companion to the Red Book, so you need to have them both.

That said, I have a question for you: why do you want to raise your 34? If you’re thinking a 36 will make you more competitive for college admissions, as others have mentioned, it won’t. Even those top 20 name brand colleges don’t make a distinction between 34, 35 and 36. You will not be more of an automatic admit anywhere, simply because you have a 36 instead of a 34.

However, spending several months prepping unnecessarily can give the colleges a bad impression, particularly at those name brand schools. A student who only cares about his numbers—grades and test scores—and not his development as a whole person is not going to impress an Ivy-type school. As listed on Big Future.o...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Test Prep
  • admissions
  • act
  • test prep
1 comment

New Year's Resolutions for High School Students - Alliteration Style

Evelyn Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 1/29/2018

Contribute to a Club
This comment typically results in a giant eye roll from high schoolers, but hear us out!  It is a small investment on time that could potentially reap great rewards.  If you haven’t participated in a club thus far, now’s the time to do some investigating and commit to participating in something new for the spring semester.  If you’ve already been participating in a club, take it to the next level by raising your hand for a leadership position or simply diving deeper into the club.  It’s important to realize that any type of participation is important and meaningful if you make it that way – you don’t have to have a title next to your name.  More importantly, it’s worthwhile if it speaks to who you are.  Who knows, you may discover a hidden talent or new best friend along the way!

Ramp up the Rigor
Now’s the time:  show colleges you can handle tough academic work!  Colleges are looking to see that you are challenging your...more

Categories: Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance
  • college advice
  • new year's resolutions

What's my GPA for College Admissions? Weighted or Unweighted?

Evelyn Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 1/8/2018

When a parent first calls us, they invariably report to us their child’s most recent semester GPA – in weighted format.  We usually have to break the bad news that the GPA for college admissions purposes is a student’s unweighted, academic, 9th grade through 11th grade GPA.  And it’s almost always lower than you think it is.

The problem is that there’s no ‘standard’ way for high schools to report GPAs, and there’s no ‘standard’ way for colleges to require them. So that leaves us in the horrible gray area where high schools can calculate students’ GPAs however they want – and report whatever numbers they choose to parents and students.  In some cases, high schools report multiple GPAs on a student’s transcript.  In the worst instances, some high schools report ONLY the weighted overall GPA.

On top of the weighting issue, many high schools include EVERY class a student has taken in high school in their GPA, such as athletics and non-academic electives.&n...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Application & Essay Guidance
  • GPA
  • weighted GPA
  • unweighted GPA
  • weighted vs. unweighted GPA

Why Was I Rejected From My Dream School When Less-Qualified People Got In?

Lessa Scherrer
Posted at 1/5/2018

 First off, life isn’t fair. Second, unless you were in the room where the admission decision was made, you don't know that the other student was less qualified than you. Sure, he might have similar, or even lower, grades and test scores, but numbers aren't all there is in holistic admissions.

     Simply put, college admission has never been fair to the applicants. Admission to a particular college is not something you earn or deserve. If your abilities match their institutional priorities, then you will be admitted. One of those priorities might be “We need more students whose wealthy families will give us money.” C’est la vie. Those students’ families are paying for other students’ scholarships.

     But, if I’m correct in assuming that your “dream college” is one of those top 20 name-brand colleges, you need to face the facts that admission to those schools is not a given for anybody. There ar...more

Categories: College Selection & List Development  |  Application & Essay Guidance  |  Comprehensive College Guidance
  • admissions

Step-by-Step Guide to Completing the Common App

Evelyn Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 8/14/2017

This is your step-by-step, section-by-section guide to completing the Common App!  Below you’ll find instructional videos that will guide you through each section of the third “tab” in the Common Application – which is the heart of the application itself.

We hope these short videos will answer your questions about each section of the Common App!  The videos below discuss each individual section. Here’s our YouTube playlist with all of the Common App videos described below!

Completing the Common App – Profile Section
In this 6-minute video, we review how to fill out the Profile section of the Common Application.  This section requests basic information about where you live, what languages you speak, your citizenship and a few other details.

Completing the Common App – Family Section
We cover filling out the Family section in under three minutes!  You’ll need to enter information about your mom and dad – including where they att...more

Categories: Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Application & Essay Guidance
  • Common App
  • Filling out the Common App
  • College Applications
  • Should I report my tests on the Common App

Why You Shouldn't Apply to all Eight Ivy League Schools

Evelyn Alexander, M.A., CEP
Posted at 7/31/2017

Many people mistakenly believe that applying to a larger number of “reach” or top-tier schools increases the chances of being admitted to one.  There are two big reasons why this belief not only is wrong, but jeopardizes students’ chances of admission to even one of the top schools on their lists.

Reason #1 Why You Shouldn’t Apply to All 8 Ivies

The first reason you shouldn’t apply to all 8 Ivy League schools, or limit your list to the top of the US News list, is that they are different in fundamental ways!  If you love and fit at Columbia, then Brown would probably not be a great match for you!  If you think Duke or Johns Hopkins would be perfect for you, it’s unlikely you’d fit well at Yale.  And if you aren’t a good fit, that’s probably going to come through in your essays – or at least other applicants’ essays are likely to be stronger than yours.  Top-tier colleges aren’t interested in students who are only interested in their top ranking, and the bumper...more

Categories: College Selection & List Development  |  Application & Essay Guidance  |  Featured  |  Comprehensive College Guidance
  • Ivy League
  • College applications
  • highly selective colleges
  • college essay
  • college supplements

Need a Job after College? A Career Center Adviser or IEC can help!

Jacqueline Hicks Grazette
Posted at 7/22/2017

Four years of college can fly before a student realizes it.  By junior and senior year, that fateful question becomes ever prominent:  what will I do after college?  

For most students, taking the time to work closely with the career center adviser on campus can make this prospect less daunting.  Students should visit their career center and connect with an adviser at least by January of their freshman year.   This is an invaluable step to gain assistance in finding summer internships, employment and even advice on working or studying abroad.  All these steps strengthen the resume and help students learn more about professions for consideration.  Working with an adviser early and consistently each year of college builds a relationship that will pay off with big dividends by senior year, when assistance with the job search is most critical.

If for whatever reason a student does not make those connections, and finds him or herself needing help and...more

Categories: Career & Major Guidance  |  Resume Building  |  Summer Programs  |  Comprehensive College Guidance  |  Featured
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