Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Howdy from Aggieland

Howdy! That is the official greeting of the 6th largest student body in the nation, Texas A&M University (TAMU). Founded in 1871 as the first public institution of higher education in Texas, TAMU is located in College Station, Texas, ninety miles northwest of Houston, Texas.

1.  Engineering
The Dwight Look College of Engineering boosts the 8th ranked engineering program of a public institution offering a doctorate degree and the 16th overall ranking for engineering programs in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The engineering program is by far the largest school at the university, boosting over 10,000 students, or more than 20% of their student population. Being that large is not enough for A&M as their goal is to increase the College of Engineering to 25,000 student by 2025. First year engineering students have their own dormitory, The Engineering Living Learning Community (ELLC), with five total floors, four for male students and one for female engineering students.

2.  Corp of Cadets
Stepping on the campus of A&M, one will not miss the Corp of Cadets. More than 2,300 students belong to the ROTC program, making it one of nations' largest uniformed student body. Texas A&M commissions more officers than any other institution other than the nation's service academies. The Corp of Cadets reside in special dormitories in the Quadrangle and the Memorial Student Center (MSC), which recently finished a 4 year renovation, is a memorial to all Aggies who have served. The highest ranking member of the Corp of Cadets is Reveille (currently VIII). She is a purebred collie and the official mascot of TAMU. She has a Corp member assigned to her at all times and has the power to dismiss class if she barks, because if you cannot keep Reveille interested, you cannot keep the students engaged.

3.  Aggie Spirit
Tradition was the first word I was told by an Aggie alum in reference to TAMU. That tradition goes along with another Texas passion, football. On fall Saturday's, Kyle Field will draw between 30-40,000 students, or almost half of its capacity. The 12th Man, as they are officially known, stand the entire game, while waving their official white towels, to support their fellow Aggies. Besides the football games, the tradition of the Aggie Ring, earned by students after 90 hours of credit, is recognizable to graduates of TAMU since 1894.  Other traditions on campus include placing a penny at the foot of the statue of former president Lawrence Sullivan Ross (or as his namesake in Monsters, Inc. is called, Sully), for help during exam week. Near the statue of 'Sully,' one will find an odd shaped Century Tree, the oldest tree on campus, where many traditions of good luck and marriage proposals occur.

4.  Friendliness
On my visit to campus, friendliness in the form of 'Howdy' was evident as I am greeted on the phone, by the student admissions office receptionist and by nearly every passing student whose eyes I catch. Not only do you hear 'Howdy,' but if an upperclassman hears something they enjoy, they 'Whoop!' If you are a underclassman, do not worry, each class has their own specific 'yell,' which is practiced at the Midnight Yell Practice and performed at football games. This Aggie Spirit is important to the culture of TAMU as 92% of freshmen return to TAMU for their sophomore year, an impressive statistic at such a large university. Lastly students who graduate from Texas A&M, 80.4%, are linked to the university forever. An Aggie never says goodbye, but while giving a' thumbs up,' exclaims "Gig 'Em!"

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

High School Sophomores, Now is the Time To Think About College

If your college bound student is a sophomore, time is your ally. Use this time strategically and you can reap the most out of the college selection process. Use it foolishly, and you will need to read the following blog post in two years. Here are some tips on how to maximize your alliance with time. 

Rigorous Coursework
Over the years, I have had conversations with numerous college admissions representatives and the same people that read your student's college applications. One of most important factors colleges use to evaluate an applicant’s admissions are their high school transcripts. Each representative examine high school transcripts to assess how much a student has challenged themselves, especially looking for  Honors or Advanced Placement level coursework. They understand that these elite courses were not for each student and do not want to see poor marks on the transcripts. The suggestion was given for a high school student to enroll in the hardest courses that will challenge themselves, while experiencing success.

Visit Colleges
If you have not already stepped foot on a college campus, perhaps now is the time to plan a visit. As I have stated in a previous blog post, this is a great way to determine if your student is the proper fit for a campus. Being a first semester sophomore, it is a good time to expose students to a college campus. Perhaps there is a local campus that has an 'open house' on a fall day. Take advantage of the campus tour and the admissions information session. Researching online, reading brochures and talking with college admission representatives at fairs cannot replace the unique 'feel' of each campus. This experience will benefit the entire college bound family.

Take Interest Inventories
Sophomore year is the right time for a student to explore potential college majors. Students should seek subjects they enjoy in school and discuss potential career options. Students can talk to family members in potential fields or search out these careers online. Another good way is to take an interest inventory. Perhaps their high school uses Naviance or a similar program to seek potential majors/careers. If not, they could seek out a professional to administer a Myers-Briggs Type Inventory or similar test. Once they receive their results, students should discuss the results with their family, then research ideas that are of interest to them. This will help guide the college selection process. 

Another way to find a potential career or college major is for the student to seek out employment in a field of interest. This will provide invaluable experience in the field while being exposed to its everyday tasks. If a job is not available at a particular company, perhaps there are summer internship opportunities or even a job shadow program. This will also help build a student's communication skills and high school resume, while exposing them to the concept of networking with potential employers. 

Do you have other ideas on what a high school sophomore can do to prepare for college? Add in a comment and let us know.
Need help with your sophomore applying to college? Have other college admission questions? Contact Us

College? My High School Student is Only a Freshman.

The first quarter of a freshmen's high school career has just ended. You are saying to yourself, "this is surely too early to think about college." Actually it is not. Freshmen have two big advantages in the college search process; time and a blank slate. Time because there is plenty of it to conduct a proper college search and a blank slate because students can properly create an impressive transcript and college resume. Here are four ways to do that.

Develop Good Study Habits
If a student has not already done this, make sure they develop this lifelong habit now. Perhaps a student is overwhelmed by a fall sport or participating in every extracurricular that has been announced over the PA. The best study skill is always time management. Establish a plan as to when the student will be completing their homework each night, including reviewing class notes and rereading the material. Make sure they are working in a well lit area that is free of distractions. Other important habits that are often overlooked include ensuring the student receives the proper amount of sleep (to focus in school) and eating a proper diet (eating brain foods such a fruits and vegetables). Stay consistent with these study skills and do not develop ones your student will not be able to break.

Earn Good Grades
It seems simple, but often it is not. Many times a high school freshmen does not think their actions can impact the rest of their life. It can and does. If a freshman earns poor grades, they have to work that much harder to raise their Grade Point Average (GPA). Remember, colleges only consider a student's first six semesters of school work because they apply during the first semester of senior year. If a student receives a 'D' during their freshmen year, the 'twak' you just heard could have been a college closing the door on your student. Colleges consider GPA during the admission process, along with the rigor of courses taken. It is never too late to begin to correct mistakes. It is never too early to learn new skills.

Get Involved
If your student has not already done so, they should get involved. Every school has a plethora of sports, clubs and activities. If they are unsure about a club's activities, they should seek out the sponsor or attend a meeting. Remember, they are not obligated to attend the next meeting. In addition to being involved, these activities are the beginning to their college resume. Colleges seek students who actively participate in clubs. They should seek out leadership roles in one or two clubs, another item that would look great on a college resume. Joining clubs can help students find new friends, establish their college resume and perhaps even find their passion, which could lead to their future career. 

Find Your Passion
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." said Confucius. This is very true, but how do we know what we love to do? The best way is to seek out opportunities until we find something that we enjoy. Perhaps none of those activities will be your student's passion, but somewhere along the way, your student will find it. Seek out many opportunities, whether it be: volunteering, applying for a job, clubs, sports, or academics. As my mom told me, "It is always easier to quit than join.” This is sound advice. Hopefully along the way, you find your passion. 

Do you have other advice for a high school freshmen? Add a comment, we would love to hear it!
Need help with your sophomore applying to college? Have other college admission questions? Contact Us

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is My High School Junior Behind the College Eight Ball?

There is a fair amount of time for a college bound high school junior to be thinking about college. But if a family does not take advantage of this time, there will be plenty of seniors in a panic at this point next year. A well planned timeline can help a junior properly prepare for college.

Standardized Test Prep

If the college bound student has not yet taken a standardized test, this should be done as soon as possible. Completing the ACT and/or SAT will help the family understand the potential colleges they should consider. Perhaps your student hit a ‘homerun’ the first time they took the ACT. This will alleviate much of the stress of trying for higher scores when engaged in the college selection process. If the score is not what a student would have hoped, do not worry, a student can take the exam as many times as they wish. Perhaps purchasing some test prep booklets, using an online test preparation course or even working with a tutor would benefit the student to raise their score.

College Fairs and Reps

The time is here for a student to actively engage in the college selection process. This can be done by talking to college admission representatives. Your high school junior should personally converse with as many colleges as they can in order to gain a proper perspective on the types of schools and their offerings. Students can do this when admission representatives come to their high school to 'recruit' students or by seeking out a local college fair.

Campus Visits

If you have not already stepped foot on a college campus, perhaps now is the time to plan a visit. As I have stated in a previous blog post (4/8/13 blog post), this is a great way to see if your student is the proper fit for a campus. Is it a very active campus? Intellectual campus? Athletic campus? Does the culture of the campus fit with the personality of your student? Researching online, reading brochures and talking with college admission representatives cannot replace the unique 'feel' of each campus. Walk the quad, eat lunch in the dining hall and sit in on a freshmen level course to answer these potential questions.
Bank Accounts

Begin to examine your financial accounts to determine the amount that can be used to pay for college. Consider how much has been earned in a college saving program and how far that will stretch. Will this be able to pay for four years at a university or will loans have to be considered? Perhaps the time is now to begin searching for scholarships. If nothing else, shift as much money as possible out of the college bound student's name by the end of the calendar year, the first semester of junior year. This is because when filling out financial aid forms, including the government's form (2/4/13 blog post) fall of senior year, you will use the previous year's tax returns. Thus, the student's financial situation will be required and these forms assume that money in the student's name will be used for college. This will then lower the amount of your financial aid package.

Need help with your junior applying to college? Have other college admission questions? Contact Us

Monday, October 7, 2013


No need to panic, that will only create more stress. There is still time to make the proper college selection. Make sure to have a detailed strategy and stick to a tight schedule to decide where to apply.

The College Essay

The first strategy for a college bound senior would be to complete the Common Application (CA) and answer one essay prompt. This application is shared by 517 colleges and universities in the United States and 6 foreign countries. Each college can add unique features, but the majority of the application is as the name suggests, common. Most likely your senior will apply to a few schools that accept the CA, thus once they decide on which CA schools to apply to, they can submit their application immediately.
How Will Your Student Apply?

Applying to college has changed drastically in the past 15 years. In addition to no longer using paper applications, colleges have different application deadlines.
The first deadline is Early Decision (ED). This is a binding agreement between the student and college stating if admitted, the student will withdraw all other applications and accept admission into that school. These are usually due beginning November 1st. 

Early Action (EA) This application deadline means the student will apply earlier than the majority of students to a particular college/university. This usually takes place between November 1st to December 1st. Colleges agree to act on their application earlier, usually by the end of the calendar year.
Regular Decision This is the standard or last date that a student will be considered for admission into the college. Some schools will notify students in the applicant pool on one date, others will have Rolling Admissions; admitting/denying students within weeks of their application being submitted. 

Visit Campuses
Now that applications have been submitted, consider visiting campuses. As stated in a previous blog post (How to Get the Most Out of Campus Visits, 4/8/13), this is a great way to see if your student is the proper fit for a campus. Is it a very active campus? Intellectual campus? Athletic campus? Does the culture of the campus fit with the personality of your student? Researching online, reading brochures and talking with college admission representatives cannot replace the unique 'feel' of each campus. Walk the quad, eat lunch in the dining hall and sit in on a freshmen level course to answer these potential questions.

Avoid Senioritis
Senioritis is a terrible ‘disease’ plaguing seniors. The best remedy is to make sure your college bound senior does not develop poor study skills and maintains their grades. Even though colleges consider a student’s first six academic high school semesters for admission, colleges still review their senior year course schedules. Most even require first semester and final transcripts be sent. This ensures the admitted student has continued to make academic progress and can handle the rigors of a particular school. Every year students have their acceptance rescinded because the student did not take their senior year education seriously. Make sure this does not happen to your college bound student!

Need help with your senior applying to college? Have other college admission questions? Contact Us

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Campus Visit to Wabash College

Founded in 1832 by graduates of Darthmouth College, Wabash College is a top tier liberal arts college as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes Magazine. This New England style campus with Georgian buildings is located in Crawfordsville, Indiana, a city of nearly 16,000. It is approximately 45 miles northwest of Indianapolis and 150 miles southeast of Chicago.
All Male Student Body
Upon entering the 60 acre wooded campus, you will immediately notice something unique about Wabash College; the all-male student body. It is one of three remaining traditional all-men’s liberal arts colleges in the United States (Hamden-Sydney and Morehouse being the other two).
The all-male student body, along with its smaller size (just over 900) allows faculty members to be actively involved in a student’s lives. The professors (there are no Teaching or Graduate Assistants) develop a close relationship with the students. They notice when a student is not in class, are not working up to their potential or attempting to ‘hide’ in class. Wabash feels the all- male experience and the small student population allow the students to focus on their academics. 
The Gentleman’s Rule
There is only rule at Wabash and it is simply known as The Gentleman’s Rule. The rules states  "The student shall live both on and off campus as gentlemen and a responsible citizen." Each student is expected to behave as responsible citizens not just upon graduation, but upon entering college. The rule is not just enforced by faculty members as the student’s have high demands for one another. According to me tour guide, each student behaves in a way that “their classmates would want them to date their little sister.” 
The professors have the highest behavioral expectations of the students. More than one student mentioned to me that a professor will pass out an exam, then retire to their office, leaving the students unsupervised to complete the exam. A professor feels they should not worry about academic integrity because each student is proctoring the exam. Wabash feels The Gentleman’s Rule helps students to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively and live humanly.  
The small school environment helps to create a rigorous curriculum. In order to graduate, each senior must pass a comprehensive exam given over three days. Two of those being written exams and the third oral examinations from professors.
Also, fraternities on campus are not the stereotypical fraternities. Each fraternity attempts to breed strong, responsible leaders in the world. One way they do this is through a competition for the highest fraternity grade point average. A little more than half of the student’s at Wabash belong to one of the nine fraternities on campus. Wabash’s fraternities are unique as students (including freshman pledges) tend to live in the fraternity houses that are owned by the school.   
Another unique aspect of Wabash is the spring Celebration of Knowledge Day. On this day, classes are canceled to encourage promotion of student work and celebrate academic achievements among the student body.

College That Changes Lives
This small, single sex, liberal arts school was exactly what Loren Pope was looking for when he wrote his book, Colleges That Change Lives (1996). Pope visited numerous colleges that he felt offers as much, if not more than Ivy League schools. Wabash College was one of the 40 schools that Pope chose to include in his 'educational college guide.' Pope felt that Wabash College "is a place that turns young males with great, medium and even mediocre high school records into clear-thinking men who lead the life of the mind and who have the coincidence to take risks."
While visiting the school more than 15 years after he wrote his book, it is clearly evident that Pope was correct in his description of the school. From the pride the student tour guide had in his school, to the willingness of students in the dining hall to answer a few questions about their fraternities, this college is truly rare and worth a closer look for males who want an unique college experience.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Campus Visit to Monsters University

Have you heard the hype surrounding this highly selective school? Since it has been in the media lately, I decided that it would be in the best interest of college bound families to visit Monsters University. Opened in 1313, this private, pan-educational 268 acre campus of over 12,000 undergraduates is located 2 hours from downtown Monstropolis.

Monsters University is considered a highly selective school that seeks only the most qualified applicants. To be considered for admission to MU, students need to submit the following:
·         A completed Monsters University application (MU is not a Common Application school).
·         Write a thorough answer to the following essay, "What I learned when I wasn't learning - the value of education outside of the classroom."
·         Submit their Monster Aptitude Test (MAT) score.

According to the school website, MU does not have a minimum MAT score; they review each student's application holistically. The median MAT score reported for accepted students is in the top quartile, with most students being Scaretorians of their high school.
Monsters University does offer academic scholarships and/or need-based financial assistance. According to their website, over half of the students who attend MU receive financial assistance. 

Students of every shape, size, color and texture can find their calling at Monsters University with 5 different schools. Most known for their School of Scaring, MU offers students the opportunity to craft their skills and prepare for careers as prestigious monsters. The rigorous coursework, along with renown faculty research has made MU the top rated school 143 years in a row, according to the annual "Scaring Edition" of Monster News & Report.
In this prestigious program, students will participate in a general curriculum that includes the theory of scaring, scaring training using classical techniques and the different approaches of fear. This rigorous coursework prepares students to become the most elite scarers in the world. MU also offers Master's and Doctoral level coursework in their School of Scaring.
The Monsters University Blue are an athletic force, consistently finishing atop the Monsters Athletic Conference (MAC). MU fields competitive teams in the following sports: football (with an annual game against rival Fear Tech), swimming, lacrosse (either as a competitor or used as a stick), ping pong (table tennis), cheer (with their famed Cheer-Amid) and chess. The most competitive and successful team at MU has been the crew/rowing. The Rowing Blue have been winners of 17 of the past 20 national titles. This program dominates the opposition in both the 1 monster 6 arm and 6 monster, 1 arm competition.
At Monsters University, learning does not just take place inside the classroom. There are plenty of opportunities for the students to grow holistically. As MU is a mostly residential campus (84% of students live on campus), the school ensures there is a place for everyone to live, from aquatic to nocturnal students. MU students complete an entrance survey in order to appropriately match roommates.
Greek life is also a big aspect of MU. 18% of students belong to a house. This experience provides students the opportunity to bond with each other in the appropriate Greek community house. The twelve officially recognized Fraternity and Sorority houses along Greek Row on the campus of MU compete in the annual tradition of Scare Games.  
Of course Monsters University is not a real university. Unfortunately I did not visit this fictitious school, but the thought of walking the campus would be a most interesting experience! I hope you have been out visiting college campuses as I have. Keep following this blog to read more of my recent campus visits to Ohio and Indiana.
Information gathered for this blog post were found at the website for the Disney-Pixar motion picture, Monsters University (

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kent State University

Located on a vast 866 acre campus, Kent State University is home to over 22,000 undergraduate students. It is ranked as one of the top 75 public research universities on the Carnegie Scale. Best known for Aeronautics and Fashion Merchandising and Design, KSU serves students with varied interests with 12 colleges and schools and over 250 potential majors. Located in Kent, Ohio, Kent State is 45 minutes south of Cleveland and 15 minutes east of Akron.
Aeronautics Technology
If a student sets their sights a little higher at Kent State, they can focus on one of five concentrations within Aeronautics Technology. At Kent State, students can major in Air Traffic Control (ATC), one of 35 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved collegiate programs in the nation. These positions are readily available after graduation. Most current ATCs are of retirement age due to the fact that they were hired after President Reagan, in 1981, fired any ATC who went on strike because he felt they were creating a threat to public safety.
Other notable programs in this school are Flight Technology where students fly two hours a day and Aviation Management where students earn a business degree in aviation.
The Aeronautics Technology program is not to be confused with an Aeronautical Engineering program. At Kent State, the program is designed to be highly technical and of precise nature for aerospace design and manufacturing
The Fashion School
The Fashion School of Design and Merchandising at Kent State University is the 3rd ranked program in the nation and 13th in the world. The Fashion School has graduates highly sought after by many national companies. Their connections to many elite Ohio companies such as Joanne Fabrics, Abercrombrie & Fitch, Express and even the Cleveland Indians. These connections are important because an internship is required in the program. KSU provides an industry liaison to present updates on the job market and offer internship information.
At the end of program, students enroll in a Professional Seminar. Here, students gain practical information in the fashion industry. This final program course is designed to combine all the student’s coursework in order to create a catalog and a personal line of clothing. The student will then design marketing materials and a portfolio for future use in this industry. Most work done in this Senior Seminar helps in the design and staging of the annual program fashion show. Other unique courses students can take in the program are Buying, Event Production and Presentation.
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
This very intense, hands on 4+1 program (student will earn and undergraduate and graduate degree once completed) has a competitive admissions process, with ninety freshmen receiving direct entrance into the graduate program. All board reviewed applications must meet these minimum requirements: top 20% of high school class, SAT 1180+ or ACT 25 + (with Math and English both needed above 25) and at least a 3.0 high school GPA.
If admitted into to this competitive program, students will learn the fundamentals in architectural design, theory and history. As the coursework progresses, students will develop their skills in design and building technologies. Their program concludes in an Integrated Design Competition Studio. This program encompasses the knowledge acquired at KSU brought out in the studio experience.
Out of State Scholarships
Kent State University is currently addressing the geographic diversity of their campus by creating the University Award. This $3980 scholarship is available to all non-Ohio residents who meet the basic university entrance requirements. This generous scholarship reduces the cost of attendance for out-of-state students to approximately $22,000 a year. Other potential scholarships available for one-half of the out-of-state surcharge are the President Scholarship for higher academically earning students or the President Grant for a child or stepchild of a Kent State graduate. During the 2012-2013 school year, Kent State awarded up to $325 million respectively. 

If you are interested in learning more about Kent State University or have questions regarding the college process, do not hesitate to contact me at (224) 400-8692 or

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the Indianapolis 500

Sunday marks the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. I felt it was only appropriate to blog about my campus visit to the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT). Perhaps you are puzzled at the connection between the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" and this academically challenging school located one hour west of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Connection

Rose Hulman Institute of Technology was founded in 1874 as the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science. It would later be renamed Rose Polytechnic Institute after founder Chauncey Rose. In 1922, the campus moved to a 123 acre farm donated by the Hulman family. They were wealthy Terre Haute/Indianapolis businesspeople and philanthropists. The Hulman's acquired their wealth through business investments that include producing Clabber Girl baking powder, owning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League. In recognition of the Hulman family's financial contributions over the years, the school was renamed in 1971 to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

1. This number is displayed on all banners hanging throughout the campus. It is where Rose-Hulman' ranks in the U.S. News & World Report list of engineering colleges and universities. RHIT has maintained this ranking for the past 14 years. Engineering is the main focus of this highly selective school since its origins providing local engineers technical training for Chauncey Rose's railroad construction company.  In addition to the rigorous undergraduate education, the only Master's level courses at RHIT are in the engineering field.

Engineering, Math, and Science. These three fields in which a RHIT student can major. In a conversation with an admissions representative, he boosted "we do not have many majors, but we excel in those we have."  RHIT supports this claim with the U.S. News & World Report ranking as the #1 engineering school for 14 consecutive years. Yet, the curriculum at this STEM school requires more Humanities and Social Sciences courses than most engineering schools.
In order to ensure excellence in the classroom and to continue a hands on, one-on-one education, typical classes are on the smaller size. The average class size is 12:1 and is taught by leading professors with the highest degrees in their field. This is different from most colleges that use teaching or graduate assistants.

To encourage group collaboration and intellectual thinking, white boards are in all dormitory commons area. Also, all dormitories must following the "Open Door Policy." This means students are required to leave their dorm room open during the day if they are inside. This fosters socialization amongst the nations brightest academic minds. The concept is to ensure students have a balance between academics and socialization. Quite a unique policy at a rigorous college, but when you have the top engineers in the nation on your campus, you can create unique rules.
Rose-Hulman Ventures

Rose–Hulman Ventures is an engineering educational experience located  in a Certified Technology Park three miles south of the main campus. It serves as a source of internships and job opportunities for startups and established companies of all sizes for RHIT students and alumni. It is not an academic research facility run by RHIT or paid for through student tuition, but funded by the companies that pay for the student employment. Students are selected by the companies to intern part time during the school year and full time during semester breaks. All intellectual property created at RHV belongs with the company, not the student or the school. The purpose of this facility is not to commercialize RHIT, but to promote their students to local and national companies. Established in 1999 and with continual funding of nearly $55 million from the Eli Lilly Endowment, this unique concept has flourished for the past 14 years.   

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer Activities for High School Students

The school year is coming to an end and summer plans are being made. What will your son/daughter do this summer in order to prepare for college? The summer provides a great opportunity to build the student’s high school resume. Teenagers can participate in a sport or activity to better themselves or explore enrichment opportunities to discover their passion. 

Hire a Tutor
Tutors are typically thought of as a reactive measure to help a struggling student improve their grades. Perhaps parents should consider being proactive by hiring a personal tutor. This might not be the first idea that comes to mind when exploring summer opportunities, but perhaps it should. A tutor can teach a student a course over the summer. This will allow the student the opportunity to learn new material in a non-stressful environment. When the school year begins and the material is taught, the subject matter will be an in depth review rather than a new learning experience. This will allow the student to earn higher grades and improve their overall Grade Point Average; a major factor in the college admission process. 
What subjects should the parent choose? They can opt for a course in which a student tends to earn lesser marks or they can decide on a key subject in order to prepare for a rigorous course. Either way, a parent cannot go wrong stimulating a mind that has less distractions over the summer.
Volunteer/Community Service
Many colleges require students to demonstrate involvement in a volunteer activity on their application. Schools are especially attracted to students who volunteer outside of their high school. Students should choose activity they enjoy or are passionate about. Perhaps this could be something they are interested in pursuing after college. Potential ideas could be volunteering at the local zoo if are thinking of a career as a veterinarian. Perhaps they are interested in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps once they graduate college. Why not begin volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or find a local church group in which to take a mission trip? Better yet, why not take a unique family vacation and have everyone enjoy the benefits of volunteering!
Colleges are fond of students who volunteer and many schools pride themselves on their volunteerism. Take Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois for examples. They offer a Peace Corp Preparatory Program (the only one in the nation) and have their own version of KnoxCorps to provide in interactive civic engagement within their community. Schools such as Knox College would be intrigued by a student who has vast volunteering experiences listed on their high school resume. In fact, Knox College is known as one of the most generous colleges when it comes to financial assistance.
Summer Camps
If your student is participating in a high school sport, most likely there will be a summer camp or even a league. If they would like to continue playing at the next level, they should attend all optional camps and leagues. Summer athletic programs are an opportune time for a student-athlete to take initiative and earn the respect of the other players. This might even impress the coaches and earn themselves the position of captain on the varsity team. In addition, summer athletic camps will help raise their skill level and potentially help them earn college scholarships.
The same is true for the Fine Arts. If the student is involved in theatre, perhaps the high school has summer workshops for their program. If not, plenty of colleges offer these types of opportunities. Attending one of these workshops helps elevate their performance, or exposes them to additional roles in the program (set, lighting, etc...) making them more versatile and attractive to a competitive fine arts college.
Get a Job
Teenagers claim it is difficult to find a job these days, especially since many of their positions are taken by overqualified adults. But this does not mean there are not opportunities available for students. Colleges like to see students take the initiative to find a job, be able to take directions and show responsibility. If a student is very involved in school and will participate in a sport or fine art camps, colleges will not frown upon the fact that a student does not hold a job. Colleges would like to see some sort of involvement and not Captain of the Couch Potato Club on their high school resume.
Think outside the box for a job, especially involving something they enjoy. Many park districts are seeking camp counselors or even lifeguards. It is a seasonable job, but perhaps once they are hired and demonstrate responsibility, they will be asked back the following year. Perhaps a student-athlete can be a baseball/softball umpire. These jobs are great for high school students as they pay more than minimum wage (most times being paid by the game, which lasts 2 hours) and teaches students how to deal with confrontation and adversity.
Perhaps a student could caddy at a local country club. This is an excellent way of networking with adults. Similar to umpiring, the pay is higher than minimum wage and teaches skills about how to get along with demanding adults, while hustling for an extra tip. In addition, teenagers might interact with influential members in the community. This can never hurt when they are looking for a college internship or a post college graduation job. Lastly, being a caddy can lead to the Evans Scholarship. What is this? It is a full tuition and housing college scholarship for men and women. Most recipients attend one of 14 colleges where the Evans Scholars Foundation operates a scholarship house. Not a bad job where a high school student can potentially earn good money in the summer, have college paid for AND network for their post college careers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Decision - How to Make the Proper College Choice

My office is receiving daily emails from colleges reminding me to inform students that by May 1st, high school seniors must notify the college of their choice of their decision. Not only should students inform the schools of their selection, they must also send their housing deposit. If a student fails to inform a school by this date, this could lead to the college no longer guaranteeing their admission. Here are a few tips for a high school senior to make a proper decision on which college to attend.

Social Fit

As an 18 year old senior in high school, it is hard to imagine making a decision that will impact the next four years of their life. The first step to make sure the school is the proper social fit. The family should have already visited the campus (see our previous blog post to learn how to properly visit a school). This on campus experience hopefully provided the student enough knowledge to make an informed decision. But can the family envision the student on campus, participating in the activities in the quad, eating in the dining halls or sleeping in the dorms rooms? If they can, this is a good sign. If they cannot, then perhaps a last minute follow-up visit to the campus might be in order.

Financial Fit

Hopefully the student has letters of admission from a plethora of schools to choose from. Reexamine each of the acceptance letters and financial aid rewards and ask yourself, “can I afford to send my son/daughter to this school?” If the answer is a clear cut yes, then compare each of the school’s finances together. Think about the programs they offer and your likes/dislikes about each school to make a proper decision. Select the school that you feel is the best fit for your child.

If there is some hesitation in affordability, here are some things to consider regarding the college:
  • How many loans will the student have to take out?
  • What are the interest rates on the loan?
    • When will your son/daughter have to begin paying these loans back?
  • What will the final amount of loans be when the student graduates in four years?
  • Can my son/daughter receive the same quality education at a school that is not their first choice, but offering more in terms of financial aid?
  • Is the scholarship they are receiving a one year scholarship or renewable for four years?
    • Will it be automatically renewed?
Eliminate Friends From Decision
Many high school seniors are afraid to leave their comfort zone. Many adults are like this too; it is only natural. Many seniors will make their college decision based upon where their friends will be attending. This is not the proper way to make a decision because with technology, students will easily be able to keep in touch. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and email (snail mail to teenagers) are just a few such ways. Do not forget that by using the free services of Skype or Facetime, students can easily keep in touch. Students can even call each other if they are lonely, but most likely they will use those cell phones to send text messages. 
With many forms of communication, students need to think for themselves, be an individual and make an adult decision. They should choose the college that best fits themselves academically, socially and financially; not those of their friends. Young adults are resilient, they will be able to find their routine by keeping in touch with their high school friends while also making a campus full of new ones. 
Common Application
While I was writing my blog post, the Common Application posted this on their Facebook page. I felt it was only fitting to add this to my post:

Choosing which college to attend is an intensely personal decision, and you probably don't want anyone second-guessing your choice once you've made it. Just remember it's a two-way street. It's far more important for you to celebrate and support your friends' decisions than it is for you to understand them.

Well said Common Application!

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Get the Most Out of College Visits

With the arrival of spring and warmer weather, many families are making summer travel plans. College visits allow families to walk around and picture one's son or daughter at that school. Can you envision them participating in activities in the quad or involved in dining hall discussions? You must think, will this be the ideal social fit for your child?
It is important to visit schools that your student might potentially apply to, but it is equally important to maximize your campus visit.  

Contact the Admissions Office
When planning to visit a college, one should contact the admissions office a few weeks prior to your arrival. This is a small, yet important step in the college application. First off, this confirms the office is open that day, along with a time, location and understanding of the programs available that day. Schools might also be able to provide a personal tour guide. Perhaps this student is in a major or participates in an extracurricular activity of interest to your student. Often, admission's offices prepare personal packages of information for potential students who visit their campus.

Contacting the admissions office while on campus is extremely important, especially when applying to  competitive schools. Participating in a campus visit shows 'demonstrated interest.' This will help enhance your application and express your interest in the school is genuine. Colleges maintain a log of  families that have contacted the school. They want to ensure that if accepted, the student will most likely attend. This is especially important for marginal candidates and can be the difference between acceptance, waitlisted or denial. But of course, do not burden the office. Admission office's understands the difference between genuine interest and pestering!
Another reason to contact the admissions office ahead of time is to make an appointment with the regional admission's representative. This is the first person that will read your application. It would behoove a potential candidate to provide the opportunity for the school to learn about you and your background, placing a face with the application.

Lastly, every attempt should be made to visit a school if they are within a few hours of your home. Schools will expect you take that extra effort to come to their campus. Many times, a school will have a dining or lodging recommendation. Perhaps the school will even provide a complimentary meal in the cafeteria and/or help to defray some of the travel expenses if they know you are coming.
See The Negatives!

This may be the most difficult aspect of the college search, especially if there is infatuation with a particular school. When on campus, it is important to seek out the negatives regarding a potential school. Colleges will always have the friendly tour guide to highlight the positive aspects of their campuses. But will they show you the negatives? Of course not. They are selling you on the school. It is better to find the things you may not enjoy about the campus while on a tour, than once your son or daughter is enrolled.
Ask Good Questions

Make sure to ask thought provoking, honest questions when on campus. Most people will speak freely about the school, campus and students. Admission's representatives understand that not everyone is the proper fit for their campus.
Two questions I always ask:

To the student tour guide: In additional to this school, to what other colleges did you apply?  The student tour guide will provide valuable information regarding similar schools that might be a better fit for your student. This answer usually includes why they choose that particular college and provide a feel for the type of student on campus.
To the student tour guide or admissions representative: If you could change one thing about this campus/school, what would it be? This is a good question because you are asking to hear about a negative aspect of the campus, but phrasing it in a positive way. The person answering will be more inclined to answer the question, while highlighting potential shortcomings at the school.

Write Down Information
Bring a notebook to write down all the information that you learned about the school during your visit. After you have visited multiple campuses, inevitably each campus will blend together. Your notes will help differentiate campuses at a later date.

What to write down? Besides the negative aspects of each campus, it is suggested you make a list of interests that are important to your family. Do these items include special programs, particular professors, or theatre facilities? Perhaps there is more interested in dorm rooms, recreation centers, libraries or study areas? Make a list and keep a log of those aspects at each campus. Do not forget to snap photos on your cell phone or tablet!
All these tips are vital to making an informed decision about one's future college. A little extra research goes a long way.


Tom Jaworski will be taking his own advice when he participates in the HOOT (Heart Of Ohio Tour) College Tour April 14-18. He will return with great information on 7 Ohio schools, look for these colleges in upcoming blogs!

Friday, March 15, 2013

How To Find The Right Fit For College

Your college bound student has most likely begun receiving brochures from colleges. Schools have also been speaking during their lunch periods. What your child will see and hear are the positive aspects about potential schools. But how do you know if college is the right fit for your son or daughter?

Before beginning the college search process, both the student and parent should sit down and discuss what each feels is important. Many times these ‘values’ will be different and need to be addressed. It is important for each person involved in the college search start on the same page. At first, it may be difficult to come to a consensus, but in the long run, it will save many difficult conversations. The following are topics families should discuss when beginning the college process.

Financial Fit
When a student begins the college selection process, it is essential to have an honest conversation regarding the family's financial situation. It is imperative that the student understands how much money they will have to spend on their college education. This has a huge impact on the schools they will seriously consider. A parent will not love their child any less if they cannot afford one of the 151 colleges where the cost of attendance is over $50,000 a year. In addition, parents need to consider themselves too. They should NEVER borrow from their retirement accounts to pay for higher education. This may seem like a good short term solution, but in the long run, everyone will lose when it comes to a parent's retirement.

On average, a student will attend a school that is 94 miles or about 2-4 hours away from home. Many times, students will want to attend a college that is farther away. But is this practical? There are many factors that go into attending school far away.

First off, does the student want a very long car, train or plane ride to travel  to and from school on breaks/weekends?   These factors cost money such as: extra gas, mileage on a car, or parents driving the student long distances. If a student is taking a plane, there are other factors that are not realized until later. How often is it practical for the student to come home? Only on breaks? Consider that these breaks are during the expensive holiday rush. Will they be able to come home for a big family occasion? When taking a plane, a student cannot pack much. They most likely will have to purchase supplies when they arrive at college. This can include bed sheets, clothes, school supplies, laptop, toiletries, etc... Once the academic year is over, how will these possessions return home?
Consider blending the financial and location considerations together. If you are attending a public school, you might be paying out-of-state tuition. This will be considerably more expensive for the family.

Where does the student want to begin their career once college is over? Is your college is in a different geographic area then your home? Internships, business connections and other networks might not follow them home for future job opportunities. 
Academic fit

It is important to look at schools in which the student will have a reasonable chance of admission. Most colleges report median ACT/SAT scores and GPAs on their promotional materials. Do not be put off if the student does not fall into these ranges. Remember, it is the middle 50% of students who were ACCEPTED that is reported.
Not all students who are accepted attend the school. Secondly, that data means there were 25% of students who scored above and below those numbers. In addition, many schools look at a student's admission holistically. This means that colleges consider more than standardized test scores and GPAs. Perhaps the student has a special skill the college needs, such as a bagpiper player or an equestrian rider. These students might be considered more valuable to the school, so those skills could overshadow lower standardized test scores.

Remember, students still have the application process to help themselves shine. Perhaps their essays or interview will impress the admissions committee. Maybe you have demonstrated your interest in the school by attending an open house, filling out a card at a college fair, or contacting the admissions office for clarification on an issue. Another way to bolster your chances of acceptance is to apply to a school in a different geographic region. For example, your chances can be helped if you are from the Midwest and apply to an East Coast school that does not traditionally have a large representation.  
Social Fit

What kind of school would the student be most successful attending? A large school with 15,000 or more students? Here, there are a plethora of majors to consider if they enter undecided. In addition, a student might experience the independence they are ever so seeking.
Perhaps your student would succeed at a medium sized school (5,000-15,000 students). Here, a student could still receive the large school atmosphere, but also not be overwhelmed by a sizeable campus.

Maybe a small school, with enrollment at or below 5000 students, would be best. Here, a student may find professors who are willing to take a personal interest in them.  Students can also have program advisors to help guide their academic situations while personally knowing each student in their academic programs.

Thomas J. Jaworski will be the guest speaker at Resurrection College Prep High School's Parent Club meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7 pm in the school library. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Butler University

Butler University is located six miles from downtown Indianapolis, Indiana in the Broad Ripple Village neighborhood. The school was established in 1855 and eventually named in recognition of its founder Ovid Butler. It was the first college in Indiana and the third in the nation to admit men and women. It was named in the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report as the second best college in the Midwest Region.

1. College of Pharmacy and the Butler Promise

The most competitive school at Butler is their School of Pharmacy. When completed, this six year program allows a student to earn both a Bachelor's of Arts Degree and Doctorate of Pharmacy. During the first two years, students enroll in a pre-pharmacy curriculum. Students meeting a specific criteria will be directly entered into the four year doctoral curriculum. This guaranteed admission is known as the Butler Promise. Students are still required to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). The School of Pharmacy is ranked first for private colleges with a average passing rate of 99.26% on the North American Pharmacy Licensing Exam (NAPLEX). Butler ranks seventh overall in the nation and the program has achieved a perfect passing rate six times. 

2. Physician Assistant Program 
Physician Assistant (P.A.) programs in colleges are becoming increasingly popular as this field is rapidly expanding. What is a P.A.? A P.A. is a person who has gone through a course of study and can practice medicine, but only under the supervision of a licensed physician. As of a 2010 U.S. News & World Report ranking, the Masters in Physician Assistant (MPAS) program at Butler, created in 1995 was ranked 56th in the country.
Similar to the College of Pharmacy requirements, a P.A. student must first complete a two year pre-professional curriculum. If they satisfy the requirements, they continue with another three years of P.A. coursework. These students graduate with a dual bachelor and masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Qualified students can earn a auto-advance in their pre-P.A. courses. These students automatically advance to the professional studies phase of the program a semester early if certain requirements are satisfied. 
As with the School of Pharmacy, the Indianapolis metropolitan area and abundance of healthcare institutions allow for many opportunities and a variety of internships.
3. Jordan College of the Arts

Butler University's challenging curriculum blends their pre-professional programs with liberal arts coursework. The Jordan College of the Arts is a nationally recognized liberal arts curriculum taught in a conservatory-style program. This specialized area of study means that that half to three fourths of the credits students earn are in their specific arts major. The is difference from a liberal arts education where a student earns fine art credits while taking a courses in other concentrations.

Butler collaborates with Indianapolis area programs and companies to promote their students and expose them to professional programs. One way the JCA acts upon this is with the Metro Indy Event Credit program. In this program, students are required to attend local shows in their arts discipline. This experience helps to broaden a student's educational experience while showcasing the talent in the Indianapolis Metro Area.  
To apply to the JCA, a student must apply via the Common Application by November 1st. In addition to their Butler application, each student is required to audition or interview in order to be considered for admission. Each program inside the Jordan College of Fine Arts has different requirements. 
4. The ‘Flutie Effect’
This midsized university (approximately 4600 students) has been in the national spotlight recently as their men's basketball team has risen to NCAA Division I prominence. In consecutive years (2010 and 2011) the team finished as the national runner up. It has not been a coincidence that the success of the basketball program has helped expose Butler to many high school students outside the Midwest. This is known as the Flutie Effect
The Flutie Effect is named after Doug Flutie, who in 1984 threw a Hail Mary touchdown pass that allowed Boston College to defeat defending national champion University of Miami. This brought national recognition to the Boston school and gave rise to a large increase of admission applications the following year. The same has occurred in Indianapolis as, according to ESPN, Butler has seen a 41% rise in out of state applications. Their 2012 freshmen class is their largest in school history with 1111 students.