New Year, New Website!

New Year, New Website!

Happy 2020!

You might have noticed that our website was down for maintenance recently. Behind the scenes, we were building a brand new one! Like the old site, we kept the design pretty simple. We hope you like the new look and feel.

If you have any comments, thoughts, or feedback, please let us know!

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Start Now: College Counseling for High School Juniors

Start Now: College Counseling for High School Juniors

We’ve seen too many students wait until the summer after 11th grade to try to develop and implement the strategies needed to tackle the college application process successfully and with ease. Often, there is just not enough time to do the pre-work that results in the most effective essays, outreach, and positive admissions outcomes.

The best time to start? Now.

Juniors, right now you can:

  • Develop relationships with admissions officers and regional reps (the people who make key decisions on your application) as well as current students and faculty (we can fill you in on why these connections are so important)
  • Create a testing plan that has you ready for apps due on 10/15 or 11/1 and not cramming last minute
  • Open up a Common App account to get familiar with the system
  • Make the best of campus visits and leverage contacts at colleges on these visits
  • Craft a preliminary college list that maximizes the 5+ application plans colleges now use

We hate seeing the second half of junior year go to waste!

We speak to everyone we ultimately work with for at least 30-minutes free of charge to determine how we can best support you. If we feel like we can’t we will provide referrals.

Contact us today to discuss what you can do now to always stay a step—or three—ahead of the game.

 

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Columbia SHAPE Engineering Summer Program

Columbia SHAPE Engineering Summer Program

Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Summer High School Academic Program for Engineers (SHAPE) application for summer 2020 will open to students on December 16, 2019. We want you to be aware of this opportunity for engineering exposure and enrichment at the high school level.

SHAPE is a selective summer program for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors geared toward local students who have demonstrated an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). SHAPE consists of two, three-week summer sessions and students may apply for one or both. We offer college-level courses taught by full-time engineering professors in robotics, computer science, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, and innovation and design. These courses are complemented by electives and workshops. They have need-based scholarships available and encourage applications from all students.

The priority deadline is March 2, 2020; those applying for need-based scholarships must meet this priority deadline in order to be eligible. All applicants that meet the March 2, 2020 priority/scholarship deadline will have their application fee waived. For more information please refer to their website and stay tuned for additional details.

 

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What to do if you’ve been deferred to regular decision

What to do if you’ve been deferred to regular decision

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to via early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer some and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small at many top schools) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone! A not so nice practice. Most students that fall into this category should move on and focus on other schools.

A few notes before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision II (“ED II”), and keep moving forward!

2. Consider ED II if you are currently not. Not all schools have ED II; check your Common App to see if ED II is offered at any schools on your list. Why? because….

3. The RD round is tough and this year’s early numbers demonstrate it might be even tougher than before; it is smart to get familiar with the ED I and RD numbers and understand why ED II can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

4. Don’t make the same mistakes again (or again, and again…). You should be very open to doing a thorough evaluation of what might have gone wrong with your early app(s). With fresh eyes, you might find a few things you would change. Or, with the feedback from someone else, see that you missed the mark. If you’d like an expert evaluation of your deferred app, contact us.

Other Tips:

–Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor advocate for you.

-Make sure updated grades/transcript are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

–Get an extra letter of recommendation*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person really knows you or they have a solid connection to admissions.

–Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings are beneficial to include in your deferral letter.

-Connect with your regional rep and consider sending a deferral letter. You should have connected with them prior to applying, so this email won’t be out of the blue. Ask if they have any specific advice for deferred candidates. Are reasons for the deferral that you can address in the coming months (grades, test scores, lack of interest or understanding the mission and values of the school)? If you had an interview and established a good relationship with your interviewer, you can also reach out to them to see if they have any tips. A deferral letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied as a way to show your fit for the school, how you will add value, etc. It should not be a list of your accomplishments or a brag sheet. Contact us if you would like some help with your deferral letter.

Secondary Efforts:

-Visit the school and swing by admissions to reiterate interest. Sit in on a class and take advantage of any admissions events and/or programming you may not have the first time around. Keep in mind that if you already visited and the school is more than a drive or train ride away, this might seem extravagant.

-Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your top choice schools on Facebook, Instagram, Snap or other social channels. Most schools also have LinkedIn pages you can follow. These touchpoints likely won’t help significantly, but can’t hurt as a way to demonstrate interest.

 

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Early Decision and Early Action Notification Dates

College and universities are releasing early decision and early action results this month and into January. Schools often post results in advance of their “official” notification dates.

My favorite college-admissions-related data site, College Kickstart, has compiled release dates along with the notification dates from last year, which might help you predict when a school will release early. Bookmark this page, as they post updates often.

 

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Rejection Often Happens Because of a Lack of Fit

When someone rejects you, it helps to remember that there’s another you.

I’m revisiting a wonderful article by Adam Grant from earlier this year because post-November 1, my mind tends to drift to mid-December—when college admissions decisions from the most selective schools begin releasing. I love the rush of October and seeing students “picture” come together in their applications. What I don’t love is the anxiety that leads up to decision releases and knowing how hard most students take rejection.

As someone who has been rejected an appropriate amount, How to Bounce Back From Rejection is something I believe I know well. However, it is not something you can really teach or prepare a student for when it comes to this process. But what Grants points out that I hope all students and parents can keep in mind is rejection often happens because of a lack of fit; it is not entirely personal or a reflection of your whole self as a student: 

We are more than the bullet points on our resumes. We are better than the sentences we string together into a word salad under the magnifying glass of an interview. No one is rejecting us. They are rejecting a sample of our work, sometimes only after seeing it through a foggy lens.

 

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December Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors

• Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, be sure to periodically check your school-specific portals. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools.

• Do the schools on your list require midterm grade reports? Check requirements online and talk to your school counselor about having them sent to colleges as needed. Also, re-share your RD list and make sure they know to send docs accordingly and far in advance of deadlines.

• It is difficult to write essays and complete applications between December 15 through January 1 because of the holidays, and…

• It’s always a good idea to submit apps ahead of deadlines. Aim to complete all RD/ED II apps by 12/15 so you are not in a time-crunch over the holidays and beat the RD app submission rush! Don’t forget to send official test scores, as required, to RD schools.

Juniors

• Keep updating your resume.

• Summer program applications will open over the next few months (some are open now!). If you plan on applying to an application-based summer program, get a timeline in place that utilizes your holiday vacation schedule. There is no better time than now to start summer program apps if they have been released. Not interested in a formal summer program? Consider working with us on a purpose project!

• Start to think more about your major (or majors!) of interest and how your activities support this interest. Don’t forget: you should be exploring your interests outside of the classroom/school. But what if I do not know what my interests are?!?!

Interests are not necessarily inherent, waiting to be found—they need to be cultivated. You have to get out into the world and work to determine them, and this can take time. We believe this is why it is important to start exploring early in high school. Explore through after-school programs, clubs at your school, a summer job, free classes online, by reading books, academic journals, or even watching Ted Talks. What we are getting at is, to really determine your interests, which might someday turn into your focus of study in college—or who knows, maybe even your passions later in life—you have to put some thought into it and do the work!

• Plan Winter/Spring college visits. Please note, there are not many students on college campuses during December/January, so plan accordingly.

Sophomores & Freshmen

• An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. How are your classes going? Review interim grade reports, and take stock of where you have room to improve.

• Beyond academics, colleges look to admit students who take part in meaningful extracurricular activities, and summer is a great time to do something fun and meaningful that possibly explores what you might study in college. You might want to consider a purpose project!

• As we excitedly approach the holiday season, think about how you might be able to help out those in need. The holidays can be a tough time for many families, and high schools and community centers often have food drives, toy drives, coat drives, etc. where you could give some of your time (or food or coats or toys!). Get involved, give back!

• Enjoy the holidays and winter break! Take some time to relax.

 

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Give Thanks

We are grateful for awesome clients that trust us to guide them through the college and graduate school admissions process!

If you recently applied to college, my guess is that you did not do it alone. When I work with a family, I often am not just working with the applicant, but parents, other tutors, and sometimes (though not as common), another counselor! Show some gratitude this Thanksgiving holiday by sending a heartfelt thank you to the people that helped you make it happen. People you might want to consider giving thanks to are your parents, guidance counselor, teachers, letter of recommendation writers, anyone else who read your essays/app, and of course, your tutors if applicable, just to name a few!

Oh, and PS, keep working on your ED II or RD apps! Putting in a few hours over the break could be a gamechanger come mid- to end of December. You will be thankful to not be working on apps after 12/15!

 

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New Program Announcement

We’ve got new programs launching in 2020!  To stay up-to-date on program announcements, please subscribe.

The first is a collaboration with Strategy Girl. Please reach out via email or the contact form for more info.

 

 

Not a girl in high school, or not located in NYC, but interested in pursuing a purpose project? Please email us!

For information about one-on-one college counseling, please visit this page.

 

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College Counseling versus College Coaching

Jim Jump does it again! I encourage you to read his latest in Inside Higher Ed, Ethical College Admissions: Counseling vs. Coaching. I started my career as an IEC as a “college counselor” and though that role does involve coaching, I love Jump’s distinction and that he raises questions that I also think a lot about: Do our students, parents, and schools want college counseling or do they want college coaching? Is the aspiration to transform young people’s lives unrealistic, even naïve, in a landscape that is increasingly transactional?

From his article:

What is the difference between college counseling and college coaching?

College counseling sees the college process as part of a larger quest to help young people figure out who they are and what they care about. Admission to college is the product of that process of discernment. College counseling is developmental, educational, relational and process-oriented. It is more about asking questions than providing answers.

College coaching, by contrast, is transactional and results-oriented. Admission to college is an end in itself rather than a means to self-discovery, and a coach serves as chief strategist for the student in the application process.

Of course, as Jump notes, it’s not that simple. All college counselors help students navigate a process that’s complex and confusing and not at all transparent, to say the least. So in that way, college counselors are college coaches. To me what is important is how much I counsel versus how much I coach, and more importantly, why I do what I do in the first place. Hint: it’s not to help kids who aren’t a fit for college X “win” admission to college X.

 

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