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So what do you know about how college rankings are developed? It’s one of my favorite subjects to discuss, as I find parents and students are unaware of the methods and the politics behind the ranking of fewer than half the colleges and universities in America. My suggestion? A bit of research—and that would be true regarding any source of information—from college rankings to college guides, to college marketing materials, to admissions consulting, advising or coaching services.

Take a look at:
Frank Bruni’s NY Times article, Why College Admissions Are a Joke (9.18.16) and then the Letter to the Editor from Brian Kelly, Editor and Chief Content Officer at U.S. News & World Report (9.22.16).

For more in depth information, read The Gate Keepers, by Jacques Sternberg.

And, a favorite of mine, for those looking for hidden gems is, Colleges That Change Lives, www.ctcl.org. There’s great information on the site and in the book.

Choosing the right campuses—because students will consider, and most likely apply to over half a dozen colleges and universities—is a task of enormous proportions. There’s a lot of great information to be discovered and assessed.

 

Yesterday I saw The Beatles, and the memories of that time in my life flooded back to me. While I was in second grade when John, Paul, George and Ringo appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, I grew up with them…

What are your memories of high school? What was the college admission process like for you—or did you go straight to work? What are the thoughts and feelings you have around that time—of yourself, your friends, your classes/education, your parents, and how you entered and completed the college search and selection process? Are you aware of the influence those memories may be having on your teen’s experience—or how you are interacting with your teen? It’s one of the first—of the zillion—questions to be asking yourself.

If you’re the parent of a junior—fantastic! You have an early start on the process. If you’re the parent of a senior—well, it’s not too late, but there is some serious catching up to do.

Here’s a recent interview with Bianca and Phillip, of Let’s Talk! We had a wide-ranging, information packed conversation which posted on September 8th. (Search for that date.)

Before listening, think of what’s important to you and your teen right now and in the coming months. If you don’t hear an answer or if you want to learn more, contact me to set up a complimentary Strategy Session.

 

What is of value to you? This question was put front and center for me on Monday when Clark University was named one of the top 25 service-oriented schools for return on investment, http://bit.ly/TJmjuM 

 I have to say, I retweeted that post because I received huge value from my years there. I can tie almost everything I have ever done professionally—and that spans three distinctly different areas, i.e., teaching/administration in public schools, instructional design and training, and working with families to navigate the college admissions process—to my education at Clark University.  And, my personal life was deeply affected by my years in Worcester—pointing me in a new direction for my volunteerism and sowing the seeds for all the volunteer work I do today. The return on my parents’ investment was HUGE—from both education/professional and personal perspectives.

 

clark building stylized

 

Parents and teens need personally relevant, crystal clear, and complete information about the college admissions process. Over the past two years, I have discovered (to my shock and amazement) that very few schools, in particular the guidance counselors, are not open to having a speaker who focuses on the personal side of the transitions that are happening in families of juniors and seniors. For parents, that means help in figuring out their roles in this process and shifting into a new aspect of parenting. For teens, it means stepping into responsibility and becoming college ready, not just college eligible. Dozens of guidance counselors and principals in my tri-county area have told me, “We have that covered.” In general, what they have is:

  • a webpage with a packet of information full of dates for paperwork to be submitted
  • a few nights for parents to learn the steps for completing the paperwork
  • a speaker about financing college: scholarships and loans

There’s no doubt that the very personal aspects of the process, what really matters most in the decision-making process, are hot topics. I deliver workshops in a few high schools and on college campuses every year and parents love the opportunity to focus on themselves, ask their questions and hear the real life experiences of other parents. And students come to my sessions at conferences, literally by the hundreds, to be heard, to learn, and have their questions answered.

I am always interested in sharing my expertise and experience, so I offer workshops at local libraries, PTA meetings, through teleclasses, and at conferences. This Thursday, I will meet with parents at my local library to complete my three part series, For Parents Only. I hope that you will comment on this post or send me an email, jill@majorinyou.com, to tell me where you get the best information about the college admissions process—not just the paperwork or the latest poll that sends you and your teen into a tailspin about all that has to be accomplished. What are the sources of current, reliable, and realistic information? My guess is that you have the same question…

 

 

Mmmm, I’m of two minds about going to college fairs—and I say that knowing full well that I am going to a college fair tonight! I’ll be representing Clark University at William Paterson College, in Passaic County, NJ.

Reasons to skip the college fair
If you’re…

  • already feeling overwhelmed with possibilities… these events, often with many (in some cases hundreds of) colleges present, may be stressful
  • anxious about getting a school assignment done for tomorrow or later in the week… there will be other opportunities to learn information about colleges.

Reasons to go

You can…

  • pick up materials and  talk with representatives from the colleges that interest you
  • look closely at the values represented by the print materials and the staff and/or alumni
  • start to imagine life at college

Exploring the Colleges, Leaving a Great Impression, and Enjoying Yourself
1. Know what you want to achieve
~ What are you looking for, what do you need and want to learn about the different colleges?
2. Work out with your parent(s) in advance how you will enjoy the fair
~ Will you go on your own? With a parent(s)?
3. Speak for yourself
~ Introduce yourself, shake hands
4. Make a connection with the representative
~Have a conversation
5. Have your questions ready
Do’s

Ask questions that indicate you want to learn about the school and students. Here are some ideas… My top ten questions.

  1. Did you go to (the college)?
  2. What did you major in?
  3. What made (the college) special for you?
  4. What is the college known for (for example, traditions, or the nature of student body, the political and social climate)?
  5. What are the emphases of the admissions process?
  6. What’s the typical class size?
  7. Do students talk with professors outside of class—beyond office hours?
  8. Do students talk about what they are learning outside of classes?
  9. Are any special services offered for support of all students (tutoring or a writing center)?
  10. What percentage of students graduate in 4 years?

What are your Top Ten Questions? Be sure to go prepared with your questions—and get them answered!

Don’t’s

  • Avoid questions that indicate that you haven’t done your homework about the college. Remember you might interview with these representatives at a later date, and you want to leave a good impression.

6  Request materials from the representative only if you are interested in that college. (Save a tree or two.)

7. Take notes after each conversation, as there are hundreds of schools at these events, and it’s easy to forget information or get confused afterward).

You can read even more on my post, We’re off to see the wizard…Going to College Fairs


 

Buying a college education-because that’s what you are doing, purchasing what the college has to offer-is like buying clothes, a song on itunes, or a book on Amazon.com.  You know great stores and designers, musicians and authors you love-over the years you have figured out what’s right for you.

Now, the question is, which colleges are right for  you?  It’s your job to discover which environments will provide you with the best education and social life… because if you don’t do your homework and find the right matches, the colleges will do that work for you by rejecting your application.  That’s a scenario to be avoided for a few reasons:  because it will upset you, and you will realize that  your effort was a waste of time and money.

Going to college is not about making a vanity choice.  It’s a huge investment, and the colleges you choose need to be places where you feel both comfortable and challenged.  Maybe your list of colleges will include an Ivy or a Big 10 school or maybe schools that are not on everyone’s lips… I’d suggest looking at a wide variety of possibilities.  It is your work to uncover the answer because it’s your future.

Information you need to know in today’s NY TimesFull Disclosure for Student Borrowers

 

In my radio show this week, College Bound & Determined, I do a quick recap of where you need to be in your college search process->if you want to have the time and energy to enjoy (!) the process. Take a good look at this mindmap, figure out where you are… and your next steps.

A year in the life

If you want support in the process, shoot me an email or, even better, sign up for a complimentary strategy session, jill {at} majorinyou,com

 

A year in the life… of a high school junior/senior

As promised, on my radio show, College Bound & Determined, here are the highlights of that last crucial year in the the journey to find the colleges that are the best matches.

A year in the life

Every week  on my show, I  create the space to step back and think about the college search and selection process. Check out my savvy guests, thoughtful questions, and fresh ideas. Parents learn ways to help their teens move away from the frenzy and teens can hear new techniques for making the shift from feeling anxious, confused, and overwhelmed to confident, organized, and successful in finding the colleges that are the right fit!  Listen in, here.

 

This week on my radio show, College Bound & Determined, we talk about choosing a major as a way into the college search adventure.  I have a cautionary tale to tell…

I chose a college based on my desires to work with children with autism, (and therefore to major in psychology), and remain in the northeast.  I found a school that appeared to have just  what I wanted… and then discovered that psych was a good, but not a great, fit for me.  So I explored other options, discovered the field of education and immediately, I felt at home. My happy ending was a double-major, in both psych and education with the result of a solid foundation in my future field of special education.  I chose a school with lots of choices-and it’s fortunate I did!

I want to take this conversation one step further:  to recognize that being curious, open minded, flexible, and dedicated to a vision can lead to amazing results.

Check out the timeline of my life since college… It shows how many paths I have taken-professionally and personally, stemming from a double major, further education and, I might say, an adventurous spirit.  There is so much possibility!

Long and Winding Road
I’ll update this in June at the conclusion of some more amazing adventures!

 

7 Steps to Exploring the Colleges, Leaving a Great Impression, and Enjoying Yourself

1. Know what you want to achieve
what are you looking for, what do you need and want
~ to understand the different types of colleges
(state, private liberal arts, historically black)
~ to discover the values of the colleges that are of interest to you
~ to explore more about your areas of interest – possible majors, study abroad, campus life

2. Work out with your parent(s) in advance how you will enjoy the fair
~ Will you go on your own? With a parent(s)?
~ How will you approach the college representatives?

3. Speak for yourself
~ Introduce yourself, shake hands

4. Make a connection with the representative
~Have a conversation

5. Have your questions ready
Don’t’s
~ Where is the college?
~ Do you have… specific sport, sorority/fraternity
~ What are the average SAT scores?
(These are questions that indicate that you have not done your homework about the college… Remember you might interview with these representatives and you want to leave a good impression.)

Do’s
Here are questions that indicate you want to learn about the school and students.
~ Did you go to (the college)?
~ What did you major in?
~ What made (the college) special for you?
~ What is the college known for (for example, traditions, or the nature of student body, the political and social climate)?
~ What are the emphases of the admissions process?
By the numbers (GPA, class rank, SAT’s/ACT or more of a portfolio approach)
~ What’s the typical class size?
~ Do students talk with professors outside of class-> beyond office hours?
~ Do students talk about what they are learning outside of classes?
~ Are any special services offered for support of all students (tutoring or a writing center)? Are there accommodations for students with learning differences or physical disabilities?
~ What percentage of students graduate in 4 years? What percentage go on to graduate school?
~ What is the biggest complaint of students?
~ How does the food plan work?
~ What kinds of financial aid does your school offer?
~ Is housing guaranteed for all four years? How soon can student live off campus?
~Is the campus wireless?

Take notes after each conversation, as there are hundreds of schools at these events, and it’s easy to forget information or get confused afterward).
It might even be easier to print out your list of questions so that you can just write down the answers for each school-one sheet per school, with a place for the name of the school and even the representative on the sheet.

7. Request materials from the representative only if you are interested.

 
 
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