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How Incoming First-Years Can Manage Their College Expectations

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 29, 2021

Getting into college is a major achievement. Especially in the aftermath of pandemic drama, this years’ seniors may feel even more relief than former generations. After braving the frantic testing-drop by many colleges and being evaluated in greater depth by admissions officers, the 2021 incoming class of First-Years will prove to be resilient and diverse.

Admitted students might start getting flooded with expectations. College can be an experience quite different from high school because of the freedom in academic schedule, activities, and the fact that parents are often far away. Many students get caught up in the dilemma of “wanting to fit in.” And sometimes that equates to drinking and partying, to relieve the pressure of adjusting to a new environment with hundreds or thousands of strangers around. However, there are some common misconceptions about how many college students actually drink.

Now that a student has been admitted, it’s important to remind them that being smart always wins out over having (too much) fun. Being admitted doesn’t justify senioritis or making risky decisions; students will still have to prove that they belong in the incoming class, and will therefore need to pay attention to their behavior between now and September. Overall, the currency of the student who has just made their deposit by May 1st also has a parent who is counting the days until the student starts school. Which leads to the question of whether or not the student will test the limits of their summer independence. Students that have been building up to this moment for thirteen years often act out differently than expected.

The truth is, though, even admitted students are still vulnerable until they step foot on campus. This period can be critical for both parents and students. Students may feel that they need to celebrate, but this should be taken in moderation, because any false steps can be noticed by admissions officers and compromise admission.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, senioritis, college counseling, college freshman, high school senior, college search, college application, college admit rates, high school graduation, high school grades, party schools, summer before college, college partying, GPA, college drinking, summer after HS Graduation

The Most Common College Misconceptions That Need to Be Busted

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 08, 2021

When it comes to applying for college, students are often primed for a period of intense stress. They know that they’ll have to keep up their 4.0 GPAs, take 15 AP classes, and join the crew team, or maybe start taking harp lessons. The overwhelming questions that come to mind might be, “Am I smart enough?” Or, “Am I interesting enough?” Or, “Am I unique?” The college process demands that students turn inward and evaluate what they do, how successful they’ve been, and where they’re headed. But having clear and mature answers to all of these questions is far from what most teenagers (or college admissions officers) can imagine.

Even more, now that our world has been hit by a pandemic which has wiped out testing opportunities and put more pressure on students to stand out, the existential questions are pouring in faster. What about a gap year or community college? Now in competition with students that had deferred and international students, how are these kids supposed to manage?

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, high school sophomore, college application, volunteering, student resume, college myths, college admit rates

Building your College Profile

Posted by Neal Schwartz on April 02, 2021

 

 

Building Your College Profile

Tips for Current Sophomores and Juniors

High school students have been enormously impacted by the pandemic this year, and last. With activities interrupted, distance learning and disruptions to the testing industries, the mental, emotional and physical burden that teenagers have been facing is unprecedented. However, while the toll of the pandemic has demotivated many, high school Sophomores and Juniors shouldn’t lose sight of the future. While many students have had their plans completely dismantled, now is the time to refocus and bring new energy to constructing a college profile.

When it comes to building your college profile, the work needs to start early. While adolescence is a time of confusion and experimentation, it is also a time where commitment to a few key goals can really pay off. Starting Sophomore year, students can already begin crafting their resumes and projecting themselves as future college students, even if that future is unclear. Here are some tips to get the process started.

                                                                                                                                 

Think about your core values.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in listing off to colleges everything that you’ve done, but that gets superficial very quickly. Instead, start with this values exercise. By thinking about your top values, you can more easily link them to anecdotes that represent these values, which can end up being excellent fodder for essays. Your core values should also be able to explain the activities and courses you choose to take.

Don’t over-explain.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, values exercise, high school sophomore, college essay guy, college application, volunteering, student resume, Union College

Recognizing Buyers from Sellers in Your College Search

Posted by Neal Schwartz on March 11, 2021


How to build a balanced college list

When students start thinking about their college lists, a few key questions come to mind: Do I want a big campus or a small campus? Do I want a city or rural location? Do I have the test scores and GPA to get in? However, when it comes to students themselves constructing their lists, the financial factor is often overlooked in the “college fit” equation. This leads to good students getting into top schools because of their academics, but not qualifying for financial aid. With a sole focus on academic, social and geographical factors, students might find themselves stuck when admitted to an elite institution that they can’t afford.


 Jeff Selingo, an author and expert on higher education, recently published a book called Who Gets In & Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, where he offers valuable insights and research on the selection process from diverse admissions offices. While conducting research for the book, Selingo developed a theory of college “buyers” and “sellers,” which will help students create a more balanced college list, allowing college dreams to be financially attainable. Though the research was done prior to the pandemic, the overall premise still holds.

 While the social and academic aspects of a college might be easier to measure, what appears on that college bill can seem less predictable. That’s why Selingo analyzed which colleges are more likely to make both students and parents happy from all perspectives.

Selingo first coins the term “sellers” to define name-brand, popular and elite colleges. These can include big universities such as New York University or Ivy League schools such as Harvard. These schools benefit from having an extraordinarily high application rate, so in turn, they’re not likely to discount their tuition. Why do it when so many students are willing and able to pay the price of an “elite” education?

 “Buyers,” however, are the institutions that are less recognizable and therefore have a heavy focus on recruitment to fill their seats and dorms. Because these schools are less well-known, they are more likely to offer tuition discounts and merit-based scholarships to students that don’t necessarily need it, as an attempt to lure them in.

 A lot of students (and parents) might seem deterred from “buyers” because of their lack of reputation. In a community where brand name and alumni connections have a lot of power, choosing a college that no one’s ever heard of could seem detrimental. However, there is not necessarily a difference in academic education between buyers and sellers; that is the myth that needs to be debunked. In fact, many lesser-known colleges that give out hefty rewards can provide just as rich an education as the brand-name schools.

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Topics: College Costs, college admissions, SAT/ACT, college selection, Financial Aid, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, Colgate University, RPI, Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Tulane, college search, New York University, Case Western University, Rensselaer, Jeff Selingo

How the test-optional wave will impact college admissions

Posted by Neal Schwartz on February 25, 2021

how the test-optional wave will impact college admsissions


In the midst of college application season, students are at a critical moment in their lives as they navigate how to apply to college during a pandemic. While financial stress due to lost jobs and a battered economy has burdened those most vulnerable, the newfound leniency at the most competitive colleges and universities has motivated those who previously might not have made the cut. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the result is a wide gap in applications across the board. The most competitive schools are seeing a boom in applications, while less selective schools are struggling to hook applicants. Why is this and what are this trend’s implications on the future of students and college?

 Average students take a shot at the Ivy Leagues

 Because some of the most competitive colleges have been cutting their testing requirements, students that were low test performers are now feeling an increase in confidence. This results in an application boom. The article cites, “The nation’s most-selective four-year institutions, both public and private, saw a record-breaking 17 percent increase in applications this year, according to the Common App. Small liberal arts schools felt a boon, with applications to Haverford and Swarthmore increasing by 16 percent and 12 percent, respectively. So did large state schools like the University of California, Los Angeles, where freshman applications increased 28 percent.”

 With such an increase in application numbers, that could also mean an increase in competition. Whereas in the past a test score might be the factor that determined one student’s admittance over another, the lines are blurrier now. However, just because the SATs and ACTs are no longer required at certain schools, this does not mean that these tests are not helpful to the overall profile of the student.

 These tests were developed and used for years to evaluate concrete skills that students will need to thrive in their college courses, like reading comprehension, grammar and essay organization and math skills. Even despite the current context, there still is a place for testing as well as a holistic approach to application review. To best get a sense of the student’s performance and motivation, these approaches will coincide and operate for the good of the student applicant.

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Topics: College Applications, college admissions, college interview, SAT/ACT, college selection, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, test optional, college forecast, SUNY, State University of New York, Swarthmore, YPIE, Haverford, UCLA

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