Archive for October, 2009

Editor’s Note

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Chronicle of Higher Education Journalist, Eric Hoover, writes about something we have been sharing with our students for several years now.  Mr. Hoover hits on all the important points very well.welcome sign

Regardless of where your student applies the bottom line cost of college is of great importance, particularly in an uncertain economy. The increased number of applicants to state supported schools make even those “safeties” an uncertain option from an admissions perspective.

But there are still very good private colleges that offer non-need Merit Scholarships that are often not considered by bright, ambitious students. Too often they have constructed their college lists from the top down with “brand-name” colleges.

Though it is true that Harvard and Princeton have extraordinarly generous aid policies, a parent’s AGI needs to be less than $180,000 to qualify for significant need-based grants with one child in college. As we all know, however, the challenge is to be admitted in the first place.

In any case, our money saving Dry Run can give you an early look at the myriad of possibilities still available for both the student and parents.

College Admissions Uncertainty

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The State of College Admissions: Full of Uncertainty

By Eric Hoover

As the numbers of college applicants and applications have gone up, many colleges have seen other things go down, including their acceptance rates, their “yield” rates, and their confidence in predicting enrollment outcomes.

A new report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling puts that trend in context. For the fourth straight year, about three-quarters of four-year colleges and universities saw an increase in applications over the previous year, says the report, which examined the admissions cycle for freshmen who enrolled in the fall of 2008. Twenty-two percent of those applicants had submitted seven or more applications, up from 19 percent in 2007. stanford university

 In an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education, the report’s authors also found that from 2001 to 2007, the average acceptance rate at four-year institutions fell to 66.8 percent, from 71.3 percent. During that time, the average yield rate—the percentage of admitted students who enroll—declined to 45.2 percent, from 49.1 percent. (more…)

US News

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

The popularity of the US News & World Report’s annual College Issue has spawned numerous copycats; each trying to offer its’ own spin on how it rates colleges. It’s all about selling magazines. Unit sales directly impacts advertising rates.

It’s more about the money than the value of the content. What does it really mean when you learn what the six year graduation rates are, the average financial aid a student receives, the student/faculty ratio, average SAT scores and average loan burden/student upon graduation?

admissions cartoon picIt is interesting to see that more colleges are eschewing such assessments and not returning the self-reported questionnaires sent to them by the publications. Others are critical of their methods, but when a college is recognized in the “Top 10” or “Best of” in a particular category they are not shy about letting you know about it on their websites.

And yes, I am one of those who buy those magazines. I buy them because you are, and I want to be ready for your questions when you ask…

“Why do you recommend the 41st ranked University of the South @ Sewanee for Carolyn instead of the well known 18th ranked Colgate University?”

I appreciate such questions.  More often than not, the answer has to do with a combination of factors. The academic profile of the student and learning style, how a student expresses interest in different majors (however vague they may be early on), financial parameters of the parents, campus ethos and the nature of the academic and career advising.

All of which we take into account when suggesting the ‘starter list’ of fifteen colleges for a junior.  I invite you to arrange a FREE “get acquainted” conversation with us. We work with students all over the country (and in Europe) thanks to the Internet. Please click here for more information.

Ratio Schmatio

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Ratio, Schmatio


ISABELLE CARBONELL, a college senior from Bethesda, Md., has thrived over the last four years as part of a small learning community. Most of her classes have had fewer than 35 students. For freshman and sophomore years, her dormitory was in the same building as the cafeteria and many of her classrooms and professors’ offices. “You see the same people over and over, and that lets you create networks,” she says. “You get to know your professors informally. You see them in the hallway, they say, ‘How’s that project going along?’ and you bounce ideas off them.” Prospective undergraduates are deluged with statistics — from average class size to the number of Nobel Prize winners on staff — with which to take the measure of a college. Is Ms. Carbonell’s story an argument for choosing your college by the numbers?

U of Michigan pic

Not exactly. She attends the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which has some 25,000 undergraduates, 4,100 full-time faculty members and 540 buildings. If she had been looking for an intimate experience, the numbers would have led her elsewhere.

That’s just one of the problems with statistics: they rarely tell the whole story. (Ms. Carbonell’s story is that she signed up for Michigan’s Residential College, a program in which students live and attend classes in the same building. She now lives off campus but continues to take classes in the R.C. building.)

Another problem with numbers: “Often statistics don’t measure what’s important,” says Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit group working to improve the college admissions process. For example, the selectivity of a college, measured by how many applicants it denies, provides little information about the educational experience there. (more…)

Editor’s Note

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Recently we wrote about the confusion with the College Board’s policy on how to report SAT scores. Before that there was (and continues to be) confusion as to what strategy is best when applying to colleges. But now, the addled college applicant can encounter a maze of ever changing invididual college policies that can add to the mystery of college applications.

If after reading this report you have questions, do not hesitate to call or email. We have a special covert de-mystification method that will you enable you to see and think clearly.


Editors note cartoon

SAT Test

Friday, October 9th, 2009

SAT Test Optional or Not…the Debate Goes On

A year ago, the big news at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling was the release of a landmark report questioning the use of standardized testing. While the report did not call for testing to be abolished, it said that most colleges that required testing in the admissions process did not have a sufficient sense of its value, and the study suggested that careful analysis would lead many of those institutions to stop requiring the SAT or ACT as part of the admissions process. test picture

In the year since the report was released, there has been a steady stream (but not a wave) of movement away from testing requirements. Just in the week before the meeting, Sacred Heart University, the State University of New York at Potsdam and Washington and Jefferson College dropped SAT requirements. In the last year, new forms of going test-optional have also appeared. Some colleges — such as American University and the State University of New York at Geneseo — have gone test-optional for early decision applicants. Other institutions, such as New York University and Bryn Mawr College, moved in the last year to allow the use of SAT II (subject tests) or Advanced Placement tests instead of the SAT. (more…)

Visiting Colleges?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Looking  Beyond the College Brochures


 If you’re serious about going to college, then you need to look beyond those expensive, glossy, full-color college brochures, or fancy websites, which tout the institution’s image and credentials.

Have you ever noticed that a lot of schools seem to have similar characteristics? … They’re located in sun-drenched communities where clouds are rare… Classes are small and seminar-like and held on lush, green lawns… A beautiful lake is the visual center of most campuses; ducks and geese abound… It is fall year around.

Don’t judge a college by its brochure. You must gather first-hand intelligence about the schools on your list. The summertime is the second best time* for all you high-school juniors who are planning to visit colleges. (more…)

Editor’s Note

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This year the College Board returned to its’ policy of years ago called “Score Choice”. When it was announced last year, my first thought was this only benefits the College Board, not the applicant. It has turned out to be, if not the worst decision, a most confusing one. Score Choice (which allows applicants to select which test results are reported … and which ones are not) was designed to help reduce student stress. But it has produced major headaches instead, especially because some colleges insist on seeing all scores, regardless of the Score Choice option.

This article from the Christian Science Monitor tries to explain how seniors should complete their Common Applications when they are applying to colleges that are honoring Score Choice and those that are not. However, it does not point out that once the Common Application is completed it is NOT necessary to send it to all colleges at the same time.

That is, the SAT scores (if below average for that school) can be edited out before sending to the SAT optional colleges. On the other hand, colleges like Yale that expect to see all SAT scores can be entered before submitting. By the way, if your high school puts ALL standardized test scores onto the official high school transcript, they may leave them off if you request it.

Although there are still many questions and concerns, that the new Score Choice policy evokes, this article should allay some worries about how to tackle the test-score section of the Common App this year.

Withholding SAT Scores

Monday, October 5th, 2009

For Those Withholding SAT Scores, Advice on Completing the Common Application

By Jacques Steinberg
 Withholding SAT Scores pic
John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor

As high school seniors and their counselors get deeper into fall, they will surely find themselves wrestling with the fine print and ramifications of the College Board’s new Score Choice policy.

For the uninitiated, Score Choice is a new feature being offered by the College Board that allows applicants to withhold some SAT scores (presumably their lowest, though it’s not necessarily that simple) from the colleges to which they are applying. One potential complication: several dozen colleges, including Cornell, Rice, Tufts and Yale, require students to submit all SAT scores from every occasion in which they have taken the test.

Already, those seniors who have sought to get a jump on filling out the Common Application have been inundating the Common Application support center with questions related to Score Choice, and with reports that they are “flummoxed.” That’s the description Rob Killion, the executive director of the Common Application, used in an   e-mail message to me late Tuesday night. (more…)

You Want to be a Doctor?

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Do you have a student or are you a student with aspirations to be a Doctor of Medicine? With all the talk about health care issues and challenges, our basic western system of Allopathic medicine continues to frustrate both the patient and caregiver. My strong suggestion to aspiring doctors and nurses is to read this well-written book before entering a field that is getting more purblind in understanding true wellness and based on scientific methods that have proven to be inadequate when it comes to curing …much less preventing disease.

My philosophy of placing more emphasis on prevention of disease than treatment of symptoms (watch the 3 short videos ASAP) is making more sense as costs become more unmanageable. It is all about the “ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.” Particularly when the “cure” is simply designed to manage the symptoms with questionable drugs and not address the real cause of disease. Now, with Codex Alimentarius, it will be illegal for a physician to practice proven alternative therapies to heal the body and/or prevent the disease in the first place. Call me if you wish to explore proven solutions for your family. Eric Goodhart

Confused Docs

Future Docs Are Confused, Too


Struggling to understand the national debate over health care? You’re not alone — your future doctor may well be baffled, too.

A study published in the September issue of Academic Medicine found that nearly half of all medical students believe they have been inadequately educated about the “practice of medicine” — especially related to medical economics.

“Our patients expect us to understand the system,” said Matthew M. Davis, one of the researchers and an associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan’s medical school. “If we don’t, that can result in poor patient care. And if we don’t expect doctors to understand the health care system, who is going to?”

The study, by Davis and two colleagues at Michigan, examined tens of thousands of survey responses from medical students about the extent and perceived quality of their training in an array of curricular areas, including clinical care and decision-making and the practice of medicine — with the latter including health care systems, managed care, and practice management, among other areas.    (more…)