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Admissions By Design

Admissions By Design

Joseph Freeman
Director of College Counseling
Beacon Academy

My parents love HGTV, so whenever I go home to visit them, I will consume hours of “Fixer Upper,” “Love It or List It,” and “Design Star.” While I am neither handy nor inclined towards interior design or landscape architecture, I get engrossed by the same inevitable narrative: a homeowner has a vision, competing ideas for achieving that vision are presented, pricey obstacles force the homeowner to revise that vision, designers and contractors work some magic, and a gorgeous result prompts my awe and envy—all in 38 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, it took me over a month and a couple of shower-door catastrophes to retile my bathroom. By equating my own process to the highly edited version on television, I set myself up for a false comparison. I focused my own renovation too much on the end product, a pretty new bathroom, and not enough on the collaborative design process that would lead me to a realization of my vision.

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Getting to “Yes, and…”

Getting to "Yes, and..."

Eric Monheim
Director of College Counseling
St. Mark's School

I typically think of “Yes, and…” as a guideline for ordering food as in “Yes, I’ll have the steak and lobster.” Better yet, “Yes, I’ll have the brownie and the ice cream.”

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Embrace the "Why"! : Learning to Love the Why _______ College? Supplemental Essay

Embrace the "Why"! : Learning to Love the Why _______ College? Supplemental Essay

Sarah Graham
Director of College Counseling
Princeton Day School

“Maybe you’re having trouble writing the “Why?” essay because you don’t actually want to go to this college?” I remarked to the frustrated senior in front of me. Silence. More silence. Then a half-smile and nod.

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Approaching the College Essay: A Killer First Sentence and Other Important Tips

Approaching the College Essay: A Killer First Sentence and Other Important Tips

Meghan Ryan Finegan
Associate Director of College Counseling
The Pingry School
 

Your college essay is an opportunity for admissions officers to get to know you beyond the numbers that your transcript and standardized test scores reveal. The essay, like the recommendations from your teachers and college counselor, is something that cannot be quantified, and therefore possesses potentially unlimited power. It can tip the scales either way. You want to make sure that it tips them in your favor. To that end, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

You need a killer first sentence. Your first sentence needs to draw the reader in, and make him or her want to keep reading. Grab the reader with your first sentence!

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Tips on Nailing the College Interview

Tips on Nailing the College Interview

Jody Sanford Sweeney
Associate Director of College Counseling
William Penn Charter School
 

Do any of your summer college visits include an admissions interview? Don’t let your nerves get in the way! These tips will prepare you for the conversation anytime - summer, fall or winter.

Know what’s available to you: Learn what interview options the college offers: on campus; regional alumni interview; at the prospect and/or applicant stage; or, no interviews. The opportunity varies by institution and the admissions web page will share the institution’s policy.

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Optimizing a Conference

Optimizing a Conference

How to take advantage of a college admissions and counseling conference

Matthew J. DeGreeff
Director of College Counseling
Middlesex School


An important part of our professional work as college counselors is to attend and participate in regional and national conferences, and I relish these opportunities to hear about new admissions trends, discover better ways to do our work, and connect with old and new friends on both sides of the desk. Over the years, I have kept a list of tips on how to get the most out of a conference, and I hope these 10 ideas help you get the most out of the next conference you attend! Maybe our paths will cross at a conference in the near future.

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Ten Tips for a Successful College Search (Part 2, Tips 6-10)

 

Ten Tips for a Successful College Search (Part 2, Tips 6-10)

Advice for high school students

Scott Herrmann-Keeling
College Counselor
Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day

 

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Ten Tips for a Successful College Search (Part 1, Tips 1-5)

 

Ten Tips for a Successful College Search (Part 1, Tips 1-5)

Advice for high school students

Scott Herrmann-Keeling
College Counselor
Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day School

 

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Big Data

Big Data 

Aaron Fulk
Associate Director of College Counseling
Collegiate School
Big data. We hear about this new phenomenon constantly and how it will change a variety of industries. Personally, I find this phenomenon frustrating on our side of the desk. Despite more information available to us and our students, data does not make this process any less anxiety-inducing or more predictable. No admission dean has shared with me the predictive yield of segmented populations despite my tempting offer of free hugs. Weird. 

With that said, this frustration around data is also one of the few reasons college counselors won't be replaced by robots in the next decade. So we've got that going for us . . . which is nice. With all that in mind, here are a few trends and highlights I've noticed from the most recent admissions cycle.

DISCLAIMERS 
I feel obligated to point out the obvious about ACCIS: we all work at private institutions with predominantly affluent students. As a result, I am focusing on some of the most selective colleges in the nation, but these colleges and trends are not indicative of higher education at large. Also despite wearing glasses, I am neither an economist nor a mathematician. These are simply personal theories and interpretations of data available to the public. 

THE MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEYS CIRCA 2012
In other words, the colleges that are, as the kids say these days, on fleek:




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I Am Your Counselor

I AM YOUR COUNSELOR 

Sam Bigelow
Associate Director of College Counseling
Middlesex School
 

Last Thursday, I closed up my computer for the day at 5:15pm, headed home, and, upon arrival, refreshed my email on my phone, despite the fact that I had checked email just minutes prior. Then, I went outside to enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and when I returned home about 20 minutes later, I refreshed my email again. A lot of college news was hitting the streets Thursday afternoon but, no, I am not an applicant; I am your college counselor.

I try to take advantage of every moment I have with you, starting in junior year, to help empower you with good, accurate information on the qualitative elements of a college and the quantitative (and oftentimes confounding) elements of a college’s admissions standards. What I don’t want is for you to be surprised by the ultimate outcomes. I know that sometimes, despite my best efforts, while you might intellectually understand what I’m saying, your heart might tell you something different and, without sounding condescending, I totally understand.

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A Coalition of One's Own

A Coalition of One's Own

Bryan Rutledge
Director of College Counseling
Woodward Academy

The values and beliefs of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success are commendable and appealing.  How, then, do those most able to meet the needs of students team up to serve the students who need the most? 

We in education are engaged in spirited debate to answer this question.  It’s good to shake things up every now and then.  Unless, of course, the parties rush to barricades where we question one another’s motives and are paralyzed by disagreement, cobbling a wobbly Tower of Babel.  The most under-resourced students deserve our best efforts.

Sports analogies are cliché but instructive.  When I taught tennis, I reminded students of basics such as keeping your eyes on the ball.  Likewise, let’s review the basics of assisting under-resourced students, some of their most pressing educational needs and what will answer them.  While there is nothing really new in the following list, please see it as a timely, even urgent invitation to reflection, collaboration, and action.

  1. Research shows that primary and secondary students lose academic ground during summers when prior learning is not reinforced.  Many academic communities are fortunate to have the facilities, professors, teachers, and time to conduct a month-long summer course for under-resourced populations that reinforces the basics: pure math, laboratory science, and analytical writing.  Imagine what could be accomplished if these short courses were co-taught by master professors and schoolteachers.  Imagine complementing the academic lessons with classes co-taught by admission and college counselors: classes on financial aid, scholarship, application essays, resumes, standardized tests, and interviews. 
  2. As with all major institutions, education has an essential political front to reach those who hold the levers and purses of power.  There are success stories.  For example, from California to Alabama leaders in state governments have been implementing strategies to reduce or even eliminate tuition for community college.  Colleges and universities profit by making room for transfer students who take this path. The White House, too, has weighed in with initiatives to reduce college costs and crippling loan debt.  Whether individually or collectively, we all can make our voices heard in these efforts.
  3. Colleges and universities have the option of exercising flexibility in their use of standardized tests in admission; just ask the over 800 schools that have gone test optional.  Considering the barrier to admission that standardized tests can present to under-resourced groups, as well as the questionable validity of over-reliance on such tests, a thoughtful review of how they are used could increase access and success.
  4. Part-time and online studies are vital to under-resourced students.  Such flexible learning enables those with families, time and transportation constraints, and jobs to advance themselves.
  5. Promotional emails, brochures, and the like are essential to the enrollment strategies of all kinds of schools.  But promotional messages can be accompanied by service messages, showing not only how fabulous the school is, but how to meet the requirements for admission as well as find the means to afford education.
  6. Business people are always concerned with “value-added takeaways,” and with good reason.  In harmony with their liberal arts missions, colleges and universities can integrate internships, individualized advice that keeps graduation on time, and vigorous career and professional school counseling.
  7. For primary and secondary schools that lack computer and Internet resources, funds are required to answer these needs and put tools in the hands of those who can then get the job done, as Britain implored the U.S. during World War II.







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Reflections on the new SAT

Reflections on the new SAT

Annie Reznik
Associate Director of College Counseling
Moses Brown School

The last time College Board announced a new SAT, I was wrapping up my first year as an admissions counselor at the University of Maryland. When my supervisor asked for a volunteer to become a “resident expert” on standardized test changes, I said yes (just like I did to everything in my early years) and became our office’s “New SAT Expert.” On the dawn of the second new SAT of my career and on the “other side of the desk,” I am in flashback mode; thinking about the new SAT like a college admission officer rather than a college counselor. Below are some of the throwback thoughts that have bubbled up as the SAT change is upon us.

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What is your Motto? College Admission and Identity

What is your Motto? College Admission and Identity

Brennan E. Barnard
Director of College Counseling
The Derryfield School

 

 

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And Then, You Wait

And Then, You Wait

Kate Boyle Ramsdell
Director of College Counseling, Noble and Greenough School
 
“First you have brown, all around you have brown… then there are seeds… and a wish for rain.” –Julie Fogliano, And Then It’s Spring 

When my older son was born, it wasn’t long before I was hooked on finding children’s books that I actually enjoyed reading aloud. I could only take so much of Hop on Pop and Moo, Ba, La La La. (Forgive me if those are family favorites!)

I stumbled across And Then It’s Spring during a mid-winter 2015 trip to a local bookstore. There were over 100 inches of snow on the ground in Boston. The book offered the promise of green. My seniors, the ones who hadn’t applied early or who hadn’t gotten in early, were waiting… and waiting… for their college news to drop. For most of them – for us – winter felt interminable. March and April weren’t yet tiny lights at the end of the long, blustery, college tunnel. 

I have thought and written about the college process for a long time now – almost half of my life, which is a bit hard to swallow. And a topic I always come back to is this: why is waiting so darn hard? I know adults tend blame adolescents and their seeming inability to wait on social media and the instant gratification of posting, snapping, and tweeting. But waiting for college news was hard in 1992, when I didn’t have Facebook, or Snapchat, or Twitter. It just was. My life – my future – was hanging out there somewhere, not in cyberspace, but in a file in the back room of an admission office. We didn’t even have the distraction of our phones to help us pass the time! 


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Patience in a Snapchat World

 

Carol Wasden, Director of College Counseling, The Hockaday School

Picture this: It’s 10:30 p.m. when a high school senior, pooled in desk lamp light and nerves, presses submit on his college application. Deep breath, exhale. Pause. Now what?

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Launch Blog

 

ACCIS is excited to officially launch AdmitAll, our new blog, featuring the writing of our very own ACCIS college counselors. In a time when admissions strategies, policies, and numbers are ever-changing, we seek to offer a blog with real time advice, including information and perspectives from ACCIS counselors in the trenches.

Throughout each year, we will offer timely, relevant information for students, parents, and counselors regarding the admissions process, current happenings in the field, and opinions on all things related to college admissions.

One of the primary goals of ACCIS is to share our collective experience and wisdom with high school students and their families beyond the scope of our own schools. This blog will serve as an online branch of that goal.

While there is a great deal of college admissions information and advice available online, it can be difficult to sift through and find the most accurate, dependable, and current information. Our goal with AdmitAll is to offer a cornerstone of trusted information regarding the college process.

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