Archive for the “College Admission” Category


It’s officially fall (although the 88 degree weather outside would beg to differ) and the college admissions marathon is in high-gear. There’s a lot to stay on top of no matter what year of high school you’re in, but senior year is especially hectic with looming application deadlines, tests to be taken, recommendations to get written, and last minute-college visits.  To help you stay organized and on top of everything, check out the FREE college admissions counseling program My College Calendar.

My favorite feature is that once you log-in and create an account, you can upload your own school calendar and start receiving daily reminders to help you stay on top of your college admission deadlines.  It’s like having your own personal college counselor, and it doesn’t cost a thing!  Hmmm…anyone going to develop an iPhone app for this?

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There are tons of great resources for college admissions advice out there, and now The New York Times has introduced one more for your perusing pleasure.  “The Choice” launched last week, and it’s a college advice blog featuring nuggets of wisdom from Jacques Steinberg, New York Times education writer and author of “The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.” I’ve long admired Mr. Steinberg’s work, and I’m sure his blog will prove informative and interesting for any would-be college student or parent of, for that matter.  I think it’s so great that there’s increasingly more access to free and accurate information about choosing the right fit and paying for college.   Definitely be sure to take advantage of these free resources as you begin your college search!

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With money especially tight for a lot of people these days, it may not be an option to go on a college tour this spring break.  But it’s still super important to research as much as you can about the options that are out there, and thankfully there are some great low-cost alternatives to the more expensive college visits.

I’ve blogged before about Unigo, the website featuring hundreds of college reviews by college students.  It’s awesome because you get unedited perspectives from a whole range of students, plus videos, forums, and the ability to save the information you’ve researched to your personal account.

Another great site to check out is YouTube’s recently launched EDU.  Colleges and universities are able to upload videos about the school, lectures from featured professors, or any other broadcast-worthy event from their campus.  What I like about EDU is the opportunity it gives you to “sit-in” on some classes from the comfort of your own living room.

So whether you’re a senior getting your decision notices this week or just starting to research colleges, take some time to know your schools before you make that all-important decision of where to attend.

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Today I’m featured in an interview with Dan Schawbel, the author of the forthcoming Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 09) and publisher of both the award winning Personal Branding Blog and Personal Branding Magazine. We spoke about how college admissions has changed in the midst of our tumultuous economy, what admissions officers are looking for in applicants, and how social networking factors into the admissions process. Check out the full interview here, and while you’re at have fun looking around Dan’s site.  If you’re just about to graduate from college or thinking about your future career path, he offers some great tips and advice for landing a great job in this tough economy.

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With the economy making it especially hard right now to afford college visits, College Week Live (the world’s largest online college fair) provides students the opportunity to virtually visit hundreds of colleges across the country and speak to admissions officers, college counselors, and experts in the areas of applying, paying for, and choosing the right school for you.  It’s totally free and a truly cost-effective way to learn more about your favorite schools or even discover some that weren’t initially on your radar.

It all starts next week, (March 25th and 26th), and yours truly will be doing a session on “Writing A Great College Essay” on Thursday, March 26th at 11am PST/2pm EST.  I’ll be answering your questions about what college admissions officers look for in essays, pitfalls to avoid, and tips for writing to stand-out. And everyone who logs in during my session will have a chance to win a copy of my book “Seventeen’s Guide to Getting Into College.” You can register and view the full line-up of college and speakers at College Week Live.com.  Hope to see you there next week!

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There are some exciting things happening over at Seventeen.  They recently launched Seventeen Get Advice! which allows users to ask and answer questions to their heart’s content with sections covering guys, beauty, fitness, prom, sex, money, family, fashion, entertainment, and, of course, college!  I’m a featured college expert, so you can check out my advice and ask me questions by looking up 17collegeadvicegirl on the site. The thing I’m most excited about is the chance to answer specific questions about college from girls across the country (and world) in a real-time manner.  Hope you’re having a great week, and maybe I’ll see you soon on Seventeen’s Get Advice!

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It’s that time of year when anxious students start receiving college decision notices, and it used to be there was only one way to find out: the thin or thick envelope waiting in the mail.  Now, however, colleges are texting, emailing, video messaging, and care-packaging their admission notifications. And I wonder if anyone bothered to do some research on how students preferred to be notified.  US News & World Report recently ran a story about all the admissions hoopla. Here’s an excerpt:

“The controversy over the best way to inform students of their fates is likely to heighten in 2009 as a growing number of colleges experiment with:

Text messages. Baylor University is one of a growing number of schools that blast out congratulatory text messages (though it sends rejections via snail mail).

Videos. Elon University has started informing this year’s accepted students by E-mailing a link to a video of cheering crowds and the words “Congratulations. You’ve been accepted to Elon!” followed by inspirational music and shots of the scenic North Carolina campus. After receiving complaints that its Web admissions notifications weren’t celebratory enough, Binghamton University added flash animation to its E-mail last year. The University of Georgia, which has for several years greeted accepted students with a link to an animated graphic of fireworks, says this year’s fireworks will be flashier than ever. Bryn Mawr, which launched its video acceptance last year, is promising an even better video this year.

Goodies. St. Bonaventure University in western New York this year gussied up the acceptance package (which contains a T-shirt) that it sends out. MIT sent out a tube filled with a poster and confetti to its early acceptees, as it has for several years. Other schools are shipping bumper stickers, decals, and other knickknacks.

Fancy letters. Ithaca College three years ago replaced its single-page acceptance letter (contained in a misleadingly thin envelope) with what it calls its “Phat package”—a foot-long envelope emblazoned with the words “Something big is about to happen.” Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., upped its game this year with a fancy new translucent envelope holding a green linen folder embossed with the college seal and the words: “You have been accepted.”

Certificates. Baylor this year joined many other schools, including Rutgers and Elon, in sending out suitable-for-framing acceptance certificates.”

So…it begs the question, how do students prefer to be notified?  Is the electronic rejection too impersonal?  And does a fancier admission letter really influence your decision of where you’ll attend?

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One of my pet peeves when it comes to the media’s portrayal of education is the all or nothing mentality, and it seems especially ripe given the recent economic upheaval.  I was watching Heroes (one of my favorite shows) this last Monday, and (I promise…no spoilers) in it Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and her father discuss college options.  Should she take on the pressure of an Ivy League or chill out at the local community college?

Obviously, in the fictionalized world of Heroes there are other factors in play, but for the average American high school student a decision between community college and a four-year probably has more to do with the perceived cost of the education.  And while it may seem that community college is the immediate financial solution for a family looking to reduce college costs, in actuality starting a college education at the local jc may end up costing a family more money in the long run.  According to the U.S. Dept of Education, “Students who begin at public 2-year institutions must transfer to another institution in order to complete a 4-year degree. Students who did so took about a year and one-half longer to complete a bachelor’s degree than students who began at public 4-year institutions (71 vs. 55 months), and almost 2 years longer than those who began at private not-for-profit 4-year institutions (50 months).”

So here’s the math:

2 years community college + 3.5 years public/private college= bachelor’s degree

4 years at private college=bachelor’s degree

4.5 years at public college=bachelor’s degree

If your plan is to ultimately transfer to a 4-yr university, you may end up with some immediate savings, but keep in mind that it may take you longer to complete your degree which could mean more money in college fees and tuition and a longer wait until you’re able to earn a full-time salary.

But there is a compromise somewhere between paying full price tuition at a pricey 4-yr and the in-state discount at the local junior college, but like most compromises this one does require a little more effort or, in this case, research.   And a good place to start your research is with the Colleges That Change Lives website.  Founded by Loren Pope, CTCL features some of our countries best but oft-overlooked college campuses at some pretty affordable prices. Another great resource is Lynn O’Shaughnessy’s The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, which outlines some great strategies for finding good college deals.  There are over 3500 colleges in the U.S., so if you feel like you’re faced with the decision to “go big or go home,” know that there are lot of other options out there that may be more fulfilling and cost-effective in the long run.

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Q: What are some things that will help me stand out on my application and also give me a better chance of getting in?

–Anonymous, Woodinville, WA

A: Applying to college is kinda like dating. First, you get to figure out which schools are interesting to you and then the colleges decide whether or not they want to take it to the next level based on the first impressions they get from your application. And the way to “wow” the admissions office is with a stellar academic reputation and a killer personality.

The foundation of any great college application is a solid academic performance, so focus on getting good grades and taking challenging courses throughout all four years of high school. However, just acing your classes isn’t quite enough to turn the head of a college admission officer. Sure, grades and test scores are important, but colleges are really interested in the personalities and passion behind the numbers.

Colleges want to know the types of things that interest you and how you might make an impact on their campus. It’s important to show a college that you care about something, so the key is to demonstrate your passions and personality through the activities, leadership positions, and extracurricular pursuits that take up your time outside the classroom.

But be wary about cramming your app with what may appear to be surface level interests. It’s much more impressive to spend three-four years committed to a few teams, activities, or organizations than to have tons of short-term involvements or to invent a new club of which you can conveniently became president fall semester of your senior year.

When it comes time to fill out your apps, remember to be yourself. If you’ve worked hard in the classroom and committed yourself to a few passions, you should be confident about articulating just what an amazing person you are to the admissions office! And P.S. don’t forget to proofread!

For more of my answers to your college and career questions, check out my college Q&A on Seventeen!

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Q: “I’ll be a senior in high school next year and still have no clue what I want to do. Help!”

–Brittney, 17, Calhoun, LA
A: Don’t worry; you’re not alone! High school goes by so quickly, and suddenly there are so many decisions to be made. Do you want to go to school? Get a job? Take a year off? Go to a four-year or two-year college? Try out a vocational program like cosmetology or fashion design?

The choices can be overwhelming, but it’s important to think through your options so that if you do, say, want to go to college, you’re not missing out on any important steps you need to take to get there. The first question you need to answer is whether or not you want to continue your education after high school. (If your answer is yes, skip to the next paragraph.) If you don’t want to continue your education beyond high school, then you can start looking into job opportunities during your senior year. But if there’s any part of you that might want to go back to school at some point, then make sure you don’t slack off during senior year. Colleges will still take into consideration your high school transcript even if you apply several years after you graduate.

If college or a two-year program is something you see in your future, then make sure you keep up your grades and meet all the basic requirements for admission (i.e., take the necessary math, English, science, and foreign language classes; sign up for standardized tests). Apply to a variety of schools, so that you keep your options open after you graduate. You can always decide in the spring of your senior year whether or not you want to go directly into a four-year college, take a year off, or do a two-year program at a community college or vocational school.

Visiting campuses or programs during your senior year may help you figure out what you want to do after you graduate. Sometimes you just don’t know until you see the possibilities that are out there! Good luck!

For more of my answers to your college and career questions, check out Seventeen’s College Q&A!

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