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The lesson from Tiger’s Win in the wake of the College Scandal

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 22, 2019

                            

“The biggest takeaway for me is the reminder of the truism that golf is the sport most like life, because it is played on an uneven surface and everything is on you. So good and bad bounces — and self-inflicted mistakes — are built into the game. And so much of success in golf, as in life, is about how you react to those good and bad bounces. Do you quit? Do you throw your club? Do you cheat? Do you whine? Do you blame your caddie?”   - Tiger Woods and the Game of Life, by Thomas Friedman, NY Times 4/15/2019

Tiger’s recent comeback win at the Masters captured everyone’s attention just a few weeks after the college admissions scandal broke.  Both events were game changers and made us re-examine how we view things.  From a college counselors’ perspective, there is a connection.

Thomas Friedman pointed out just how masterful Tiger's recent achievement was and broke down why golf is one of the most demanding and difficult sports.  In short, it has many factors that come into play, and the ball is almost always sure to take a “bad bounce.”   The photograph of a golf course from just 500 feet up will not show the difficulty visible at ground level.  The Four elements Thomas refers to—physics, geometry, geography and psychology—all come into play on a golf course. Confronting all four at once is a very challenging task.

 

 

 

 

Like the aerial photo, many parents also view the college process as an easy-to-understand endeavor; it looks manageable from above. 

The recent metaphor of “snowplowing” through problems for one’s children, draws attention to parents who do everything they can to remove all obstacles in their child’s way to ensure their success.  They believe that if their child studies the right mix of physics, geometry and geography, they will “master” the academics, get straight A’s and perfect SAT/ACT scores. Add in some volunteer work to show community service and they will plow over all of the other candidates and get to their destination.

But, like the golfer who may have it all together on the driving range, there are things that can get in the way during the game.  Similarly, despite all the discipline and hard work that a student puts in for school, they can misstep in their application work. Still, there are clearly times when the college decisions don't make sense. The student may have done everything correctly, presented themselves well, but in a supply and demand situation, other factors come into play. 

Applying to school is a lot like golf, which is a lot like life.  There are so many bounces, turns and changes.  Does the student really understand the differences in the schools to which they are applying? Did they approach a college contact in a way that benefited them? Did they do only what they were asked to do in school, or did they venture beyond those walls? How did they deal with adverse situations (Like when the ball didn’t bounce quite right or landed in the water)?

Those parents who were arrested last month may have had the best intentions for their kids, but in the end, they still cheated.  When they doctored up pictures and hired professional test takers, they made egregious errors—they didn’t allow their kids to play the game on their own and deal with the bad bounces. 

Thanks to Tiger, we were reminded how difficult the journey can be and that, in the short term, you may not succeed.  Life is difficult, college admissions is also a tough process but deserves to be played fairly.  Even the best in the world don’t always make the cut.  But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be successful sometime down the road.  

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Topics: college admissions, admission advice, college prep, college advice, college process, college selection, college scandal, college cheating scandal, college bribery scandal, golf analogy

College Admissions Scandal Ramifications

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 10, 2019

The college admissions scandal and its consequences are still developing. this huge story will have ripple effects throughout the U.s. and the college admissions landscape.

What has happened so far:

  1. Parents have been arrested, brought into court, and some have already plead guilty.
  2. Some parents have been put on leave or terminated from their jobs or professional organizations.
  3. Some students have had their acceptances reversed, and some are being removed from college.
  4. Colleges have tightened up their due diligence in qualifying candidates for admission.
  5. Public opinion has mostly frowned upon this uncovered criminal behavior.

The long-term effects are: 

  1. Compliance reviews at every college will be fast-tracked, and procedures will likely be revised.
  2. The overall college process will be re-examined.
  3. There will be Increased distrust for the college admission process 
  4. Even more pressure from” snowplow” parents to find ways to get their children into the top colleges, “legitimately."
  5. The College Board and ACT will tighten up their procedures for test day monitoring, especially in the smaller test room settings for accommodation (extra time) testing.

 

Probable Effects on the Admission Process:       

There was already a notable decline in admission rates for the top tier colleges.  This decline is primarily due to the fact that more students are applying for the same number of seats: College ready population exceeds available college spots at top tier schools.

  1. Quicker Access to college applications: The evolution of the common app and the coalition app has made it easier to view individual college application requirements.
  2. Easier Access to college information: College sites are more robust and can engage families and students more easily than in the past
  3. College graduates are sometimes underemployed: A greater emphasis will be placed on having a robust college plan and major.

But after the scandal the following is likely to occur:


  1. Some families will go into a panic mode, adopting the logic of, “If high profile celebrities and high-income earners felt compelled to cheat, this must mean it is REALLY impossible to get into the top colleges” therefore:
    1. We must apply to more schools than we thought.
    2. We need to work even harder on the SAT and ACT test prep effort.
    3. We need to be uber involved in the complete college process. 
  2. Advantages for the privileged (i.e. children of legacies) may disappear.

Opinion:

I have already heard of parents adding more colleges into their child’s college list.  The irony here is that this will only continue to reduce the already low admission rates and put even greater stress into the process.

 

The theory of adding more colleges to the list  is a volume game—knock on more doors and one will surely open. I believe it should be a quality game.  Students/Parents/Advisors should encourage:

  1. More realistic choices that fit the student.
  2. Assuming #1 is accurate, work harder to understand those colleges.
  3. Adopt a methodology for Early Decision and Early Action choices.

In summary, students should research the best fit schools more diligently rather than just adding more schools to an already extensive and unmanageable college list.

 


 

 

As the College Scandal Broke, College Planning of Westchester was asked to comment:  AS SEEN ON NEWS 12 Westchester

 


To Do: Suggestions for the Spring/Summer:

HS Juniors –
Develop College Activities Plan, Review Colleges, Put together a project plan for College Application 


HS Sophs –
College Activities Plan, Schedule SAT-ACT Prep for the summer


looking for the best college "Fit" ? :

Whether it is your first time or the 3rd time through the college process, avoiding some key mistakes can help increase the chances that you stay sane and that your son/daughter get their best college fit. 



If you have a high school student and want to get started on the right path, contact us at 914-273-2353, nschwartz@collegeplanningofwestchester.com or visit us at: www.collegeplanningofwestchester.com 

 

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Topics: college admissions, admission advice, college prep, college advice, college process, college selection, college scandal, college cheating scandal, college bribery scandal

SAT/ACT Prep and College Counseling: Which Comes First?

Posted by Neal Schwartz on March 11, 2019

Should students wait to start the college counseling process only after they lock-in their best SAT or ACT scores?

I get this question practically every day. What I find curious is that before I get a chance to answer the question, some parents answer it for me. Like many questions, the answer is, “It depends.”

 

 The Case for the Sequential Approach

Most high school juniors are overloaded with their academics, extracurricular activity, and test prep. If they are playing a demanding physical sport or have a lead part in a play, they can be fully absorbed with these activities. They are already overwhelmed/overloaded, and they need to focus on their test prep first. Introducing college discussions before they are ready is just going to bring down their success in these other important areas. So, this approach supports the premise that they should handle the college stuff AFTER they settle on their SAT/ACT scores.

 

 The Case for the Parallel Approach

If students wait until they have all of their test prep scores, they could be pressed into making some key decisions like college visits and college selection in a very tight timeframe. Also, getting them involved in seeing what colleges are looking for has the potential to motivate them to do even better on their SAT/ACT tests.

 

 The Case for the Random Approach

When there is no plan, the results will likely be random. The non-plan results in lots of starts and stops and mis-directions.


Key Considerations: 

Timing:

In addition to deciding on the approach, is planning the timing for each of these:

If they wait too long using the sequential approach, they will wind up in a parallel mode.

If they start too early with the parallel approach, the student may spend more time focusing on schools that are not good or reasonable fits. Also, too much time spent too early could cause them to lose interest in both test prep and college process work.


Maturity:

Depending on when a student starts the process, there is a good chance that the following areas might change:

  • Area of study
  • Type of college
  • College Location


 

 


College Selection/College Visits:


There is tight link between college selection and college visits:

1st- Visit Category Schools – typically HS Freshman and Sophomore years

2nd – Visit Schools from an agreed upon list – typically Junior year

Although I recommend that early in the student’s college process, usually sophomore year, a family should visit “category schools,” (city/country; big/small; liberal arts/technical), the junior year college visits are more deliberate. It becomes clear when you start going through the process, that if you don’t know what colleges are on your list, it is impossible to visit schools. One wasteful trend that I see lately is families who just randomly pick a list of schools and just treat the visits like a family vacation. So, utilizing at least a practice SAT or ACT score is helpful in seeing if a school is reasonable. There are so many tools for college selection that this effort can be overwhelming. Lots of research can point to a school that seems to be a perfect fit, but when the student actually visits, they may scratch the school off the list.

 

Summary:

The answer to when to introduce the college process to your son or daughter really is a judgment call based on their individual schedules, maturity level, and other factors. Basically, it is a personal decision and it is probably best to not follow the path of neighbor, family or school friends, as they are also putting together plans based on their child’s unique factors.


To Do: Suggestions for the Spring:

HS Juniors –
SAT-ACT Prep, Actual SAT-ACT Testing and College Activities Plan


HS Sophs –
College Activities Plan, schedule SAT-ACT Prep for the summer


looking for the best college "Fit" ? :

Whether it is your first time or the 3rd time through the college process, avoiding some key mistakes can help increase the chances that you stay sane and that your son/daughter get their best college fit. 



If you have a high school student and want to get started on the right path, contact us at 914-273-2353, nschwartz@collegeplanningofwestchester.com or visit us at: www.collegeplanningofwestchester.com 

 

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Topics: college admissions, admission advice, college prep, college advice, college process, college visits, college selection

Three Things to Contemplate about the College Process

Posted by Neal Schwartz on January 25, 2019

3 Things to contemplate about the college process as you hibernate this winter:

 

1. The Shift from Pre-Professional Paths to Computer Science

2. Popularity of Early Decision Continues to Grow

3. The Changing Landscape of Colleges Below the Top Tier Schools 
 

 

The shift from pre-professional paths to computer science has erupted over the last five years.  I meet with many parents in the medical profession who are questioning that path for their own kids due to malpractice insurance, managed care, reduced earnings, and greater overhead, among other issues.  Similarly, there has been a glut of lawyers, with less earning potential than in years past.  So, these same bright students, who would previously have gone into these professions or finance, are now exploring other high-salary, high-status jobs. The computer science area has grown tremendously, and there is a great demand for these skills.  I worked for a computer company for over a quarter century, so I am very familiar with the vision and promise for the future in this field.  The future is clearly here. Artificial intelligence and cloud computing are two key growth areas as the computer science landscape morphs into most every business sector and way of life.  This article from The New York Times talks about the shift to computer science and the current deficit of supply for those willing to take the brass ring. 

 


Popularity of Early Decision Continues to Grow 

For the most part, Early Decision (and Early Action) is growing by 10 to 25 percent at many schools.  The more colleges that accept a higher percentage of their classes from Early Decision, the lower their acceptance rate and the higher their yield.  These last two metrics are huge for colleges and continue to demonstrate their selectivity and brand names. View article from Inside Higher Ed


 

The Changing Landscape of Colleges Below the Top Tier Schools
Although this recent article from The New York Times makes a distinction to rural schools, the trend is clearly that the heyday of many colleges in boom mode is no longer universal.  Basically, some colleges are struggling financially, some have closed, and others have been seeking partners.  The most recent Northeast school to seek a new partner is Hampshire College.  Of course, the top schools are having the opposite problem. Over the last decade, top schools seem to be trying to convince students to not apply because of their lower acceptance rates.  So, depending on what tier school you are viewing, what financial controls they have placed operationally and the size of their endowment, you can find completely different views of the health of their school from a fiscal perspective. 

 

To Do: Suggestions for the Winter:

HS Juniors –
SAT-ACT Prep, Actual SAT-ACT Testing and College Activities Plan


HS Sophs –
College Activities Plan, schedule SAT-ACT Prep for the summer


Summary:

Whether it is your first time or the 3rd time through the college process, avoiding some key mistakes can help increase the chances that you stay sane and that your son/daughter get their best college fit. 



If you have a high school student and want to get started on the right path, contact us at 914-273-2353, nschwartz@collegeplanningofwestchester.com or visit us at: www.collegeplanningofwestchester.com 

 

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Topics: college admissions, early decision, admission advice, college acceptance rates, college prep, college advice, college process, computer science major, Hampshire college, computer science

The College Prep Bucket List

Posted by Neal Schwartz on December 11, 2018

What has changed about competitive college admissions over the last decade?

 


With college acceptance rates at an all-time low, qualified students need to find a way to show why they are unique and deserving of admission. 
What I have noticed is that parents often separate college prep into two separate buckets:



Add this to your college prep bucket list



Once it’s time to write the application essays it’s too late to start thinking about extracurriculars and out-of-school experiences. Students should start early in high school devising a college activities plan, incorporating things about which they are genuinely passionate. This will make the writing of the main and supplemental essays natural, logical and real. Students will be rewarded for taking action beyond just the usual community service.  The key is to try things that not everyone else is doing.


What does a College Activities plan look like?


It could be something like:
⦁ Talk to Uncle John about his profession and shadow him
⦁ Explore leadership roles in clubs where you are merely a member
⦁ Take a summer course in an area consistent with interests or long-range goals. NYC offers an abundance of such classes
⦁ Get involved in a political campaign
⦁ Come up with a product idea and pitch it
⦁ Get paid for coaching sports to local kids 
⦁ Work in a local retail store
⦁ Work at a sports arena

 

Students are already expected to do volunteer work, and many colleges have made volunteerism part of their supplemental essays.  Merely being a volunteer because you have to doesn't make it special. If you do volunteer, take it to the next level: help raise awareness; contribute a new, workable idea; create a new revenue stream.


The challenge happens when you, as a parent, suggest one of these ideas. Students often resist, claiming you don’t know what you’re talking about.  They sense you are just lecturing them, and you feel you aren't being listened to. First, help them to understand why the activities bucket is important, and then, together, discuss their interests, and brainstorm various ways to meet their goals.


What should students do now to best position them for college acceptance?
The answer to this question depends on many individual factors:
⦁ Student objectives;
⦁ Do they want a top school or something less competitive?
⦁ Burden of extra-curricular activities
⦁ Are they “overloaded” or “underloaded”?
⦁ Maturity about their future
⦁ Are they really passionate about the activity or doing it because you want them to?

The key is to come up with a college activity plan that fits the student. The high school and college years are about learning and trying new things. It is not uncommon for the best and brightest students to be resistant to something new and different, even if it was something that they chose. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when trying something new. Taking the road less traveled is great from an experiential perspective but can also be marked by missteps and lessons learned. As a parent, continue to prod your adventurous student forward, but at the same time be sensitive to their hesitation. If their likes and desires are met at the same time as they are aiming for their goal, they are more likely to stick it out and succeed.



To Do: Suggestions for the Winter:

HS Juniors –
SAT-ACT Prep, Actual SAT-ACT Testing and College Activities Plan


HS Sophs –
College Activities Plan, schedule SAT-ACT Prep for the summer


 



Summary:

Whether it is your first time or the 3rd time through the college process, avoiding some key mistakes can help increase the chances that you stay sane and that your son/daughter get their best college fit. 



If you have a high school student and want to get started on the right path, contact us at 914-273-2353, nschwartz@collegeplanningofwestchester.com or visit us at: www.collegeplanningofwestchester.com 

 

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Topics: College Applications, High school Activities, Community Service, college admissions, admission advice, college prep, college advice, college process, college activities plan, SAT/ACT