May 3, 2013
goCAMPUSing recently received a telephone call from another happy parent of a student who participated in a goCAMPUSing College Tour. Her story was very familiar and we asked if she would share it with other parents and write something for us to post on our G-Blog Page. She did and we have posted it below. We have removed the student’s name for reasons of privacy.
HOW A GOCAMPUSING SOUTHERN COLLEGE TOUR OPENED MY DAUGHTER’S EYES INTO APPLYING TO A NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE
My daughter has been dead set on becoming a nurse since she was 13 and when the time came in her junior year of high school to start picking a college she decided it would be American University. Why? Because that was the only college she heard her high school friends talking about regarding a nursing degree. One of her friends was going to apply there as well. This decision was made all without looking into any other colleges and never having visited American University.
I’m sure, in fact I know, that American University is a great school, but I wanted [my daughter] to not only see American before she applied, but more importantly to entertain applying to other colleges and expand her focus in her college selection process.
My husband and I had difficulty suggesting other colleges that we felt might be more fitting to her personality and her high school GPA and her SAT and ACT scores. We also were aware of the need for our daughter to include reach schools, target schools, and safety schools in her college choices. Convincing her of this was like talking to a wall, even thought her high school counselor told her the very same things.
Searching for the schedule a visit to American University, at the very least, I came across the goCAMPUSing website and the pre-planned college tours. The Southern Tour sounded almost too good to be true, because [my daughter] was adamant on visiting American University without me or my husband – because she thought we would be embarrassing. goCAMPUSing was the perfect solution to giving her the sense of independence, and allow her to go with her high school friend while having chaperones on the tour who were also college consultants. It was so convenient and cost effective for me and my husband, because we wouldn’t have to take any time off of work, or have to drive hundreds of miles, or spend hundreds to stay at multiple hotels; to visit almost a dozen different colleges – including American University. It wasn’t easy but both my daughter and her friend went on the goCAMPUSing Southern College Tour.
Not only did she come back to say she loved everything about the tour and have the opportunity to see and participate in each college’s info sessions at: U Del, Maryland, Georgetown, James Madison, UVA, William & Mary, GW, Johns Hopkins, and yes American, but at American goCAMPUSing had what they call a goCAMPUSing Ambassador (an independent student) , who took all of the goCAMPUSing students on the tour – into places that were NOT part of the college’s official tour and were introduced to other American students who answered questions – unfiltered. An enormously insightful opportunity in helping her understand what she liked and didn’t like about the various colleges she had been visiting.
This experience and being surrounded in the bus and on the tour by other high school students from around the country in her same situation, was for my daughter, an eye opening experience and, in my eyes, a life changing revelation. This goCAMPUSing Southern Tour changed my daughter’s appreciation of the entire college selection process and that she needed to broaden her college selection process and understand the differences between colleges. After [my daughter] returned she was much more communicative and was very open to suggestions. With much further research, we all went to see four additional colleges over the summer on our own –in NY, MA, and ME which included Saint Joseph’s College in Maine. On that tour she not only asked many questions at the info session and to the St Joe tour guide, but she also noted on the tour with us all of the key points about St Joe compared to the colleges she visited on the goCAMPUSing College Tour. She and we all loved Saint Joseph’s sprawling campus, small school and class sizes, the available scholarships, financial aid & overall tuition affordability, that it was a Catholic college, and the Nursing Program was renowned.
In the end she did apply to several colleges. Saint Joseph’s in Maine was her number one choice, and surprisingly American University was NOT on her list. This January my daughter was accepted by Saint Joseph’s College Nursing Program. She and our entire family are ecstatic.
I want to thank the staff at goCAMPUSing. What you do and how you do in exposing high school children to colleges and the selection and application process it is truly remarkable. I thought you would like to know of a true success story and how much our entire family appreciated the entire experience.
PS – [My daughter’s] friend, who as you know also later went on your Mid-Atlantic Tour, applied to and was accepted to Villanova’s nursing program. She, like my daughter did not apply to American University because they both thought American was too large and urban for them.
March 15, 2013
APPLICANT PANIC? ARE COLLEGES REALLY AS SELECTIVE AS THEY SAY THEY ARE?
Colleges love to tout how selective they are; only accepting a small percentage of the applications they receive. Colleges say the high number of applicants reflects on the strength of their college’s academic programs, professors, diversity, undergraduate research & internship opportunities, overall campus life, and incredible national reputation.
Well, not really. Colleges across the board, nationwide, private & public, have been hit with a tremendous surge in applications; on average an increase of 9 to 10 percent more have been applying to colleges each year for the past several years. Some colleges report even higher percentages. One California college reported nearly 69,000 applicants vied for only 7,500 incoming freshman spots.
High school counselors and independent college advisors say there are two major reasons for the boom in high school students sending out so many more applications to colleges. The first reason being - the ability for students to send out applications online in bulk to many colleges. It’s just so much easier now than it was in past years. The second reason is the stronger one – stress. Or what we call “Applicant Panic”.
High school students are so stressed about being accepted to a college that they blanket an array of colleges way beyond a rational small selection of Reach, Target, and Fall Back colleges that are the right “fit” – but many students are sending out applications to more than 20 different colleges in an almost shotgun approach of “somebody out there is going to accept me.” School counselors are also seeing some students sending applications just to their Reach brand name colleges, because of the name and status and nothing to do with it being the right fit. Unfortunately, many of these students are crushed when none of these colleges accept them and would have otherwise been accepted to another great college that would have been a better “fit” and would have been eager to accept their application. It is these stories of total denial that drives today’s high school seniors to apply on mass to dozens of colleges.
So although colleges love the idea of so many applications, they also toss dozens of applications out – even from high school students with great grades and scores….because the college admissions people perceive that the application is just a mass application process. No matter what a college’s admissions officer says – demonstrated interest does count in the selection process. Visiting a college, interacting and requesting more information is all recorded by the college and that information does go into the files that a college has on YOU. Yes, they keep track of every inquiry and visit and that corresponds to any application you send.
In this “application inflation” explosion – when a college receives thousands of applications from panicking high school students – your application will hold more merit if you had shown a demonstrated interest.
So when reviewing a college’s application and acceptance numbers keep the “applicant panic” inflation in mind and remember – there is more to selecting the right college than exclusivity, ranking and brand, because there is a different number ONE college for each and every high school student. Apply wisely.
February 22, 2013
THE US NEWS COLLEGE RANKING – HOWEVER GOOD WILLED ALWAYS CONSIDER THE SOURCE…AND WHENEVER POSSIBLE – CHECK IT OUT YOURSELF.
What parent of a college bound high school student hasn’t looked at the US News College Rankings? Tens of thousands of high school students and their families pour over the college rankings every year. It’s become sort of the Bible of the nation's best schools. Each page highlights the latest college standings, admission information and a comparison of the colleges in a variety of areas.
The issue is – where does US News get all its information? Or rather how would anyone get any information about a college’s internal information on their yearly admissions, acceptance rates, tuition assistance, and the grade averages and SAT & ACT scores of those high school students that were accepted? Only from one source – the individual college itself.
Unquestionably, for US News to simply collect, compile and compare the information supplied by all of these colleges is a gargantuan task that is appreciated by everyone, but unfortunately as with everything supplied from someone or entity with something to gain from trying to make themselves “look a little better”, a good rule of thumb would always be a little wary of the information supplied.
Here’s why. It might be news to some, but over the past few weeks – several major newspapers have reported - that several colleges, for whatever reason – by error or by falsifying reports – had inflated or “incorrectly reported” the SAT scores of the incoming freshmen into their colleges. We’re not talking about unknown tiny colleges, the growing list includes: Emory University, George Washington University, Tulane, Bucknell, Claremont McKenna, and even the University of Pennsylvania.
Now, we’re not accusing anyone of falsifying published information, many of these colleges have sited reporting errors and have hired outside firms to investigate the problem, but some have openly admitted that their school’s admission figures had been intentionally falsified.
Despite these inflated SAT scores, these are unquestionably ALL still great colleges & universities, but EVERY high school student evaluating their chances of being accepted to a college based on the SAT & ACT numbers of the applicant the college accepts – should always keep in the back of their head this question – “Are these numbers 100% accurate or just slightly adjusted as a marketing ploy?”
That’s why at goCAMPUSing we keep telling the students on our College Tours that US News’ Ranking information is great, and that the information and virtual tours they see produced by colleges are nice, but NOTHING beats walking on a college campus, hearing and asking face-to-face questions to a college’s admissions officer, seeing the college students walking across the campus, and embracing or shaking off the feel of the college. Finding the right FIT doesn’t come with having the right SAT scores or watching a slickly produced video – it’s stepping onto a college campus – being your own primary source – and checking it out for yourself.
February 11, 2013
COLLEGE COMMON APPLICATION CHANGES ESSAY IN PROMPTS PROVES WHAT goCAMPUSing KEEPS SAYING – COLLEGES WANT TO HEAR “YOUR VOICE”.
Once again goCAMPUSing is announcing another change in the college application process. We’re always posting G—Blogs about one change or another. For example, the major change with the FAFSA in their interpretation in determining a divorced family’s income. But this change to the College App essay prompts was clearly an inevitable one. We, at goCAMPUSing preach to our students on all of our goCAMPUSing tours – Colleges Want to Know Who YOU Are! We say over and over, “Colleges want to hear YOUR VOICE in the essay.” Well NOW the Common Application Board of Trustees just came right out and said it.
Effective for the High School graduating class of 2014 and beyond, (until they change something again), there will no longer be an essay choice of: Write Whatever You Want. After two years of discussion with 15 counselors on their Outreach Advisory Committee, they developed 5 essay prompts that they believe would best let a college applicant tell their unique story regardless of his/her academic, social, cultural, and/or economic background.
The new prompts are clearly devised to allow an applicant to distinguish themselves in “their own voice”. The length of the Common App essay is limited to 650 words and we understand the limit will be strictly enforced. However, this is up from the maximum 500 from previous years.
As of now, the essay prompts are as follows:
- Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- Recount a incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you and what lessons did you learn?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Well now you know the change and the essay prompts, but do you know how to develop the essay prompts to best present your unique voice AND interest the college admissions counselor reading your essay? No? Then come along on a goCAMPUSing College Tour and hear what they want to hear directly from them AS WELL as some valuable insights on how to do just that from our goCAMPUSing College Advisors.
February 7, 2013
NO WAY THEY’RE GOING TO ACCEPT ME, LET ALONE GIVE ME ANY SCHOLORSHIP MONEY.
Too many of the high school students we take on our College Tours have a strong misunderstanding of the college application and admissions process. One in particular that we hear way too often from so many high academic students from lower economic areas and/ or from slow performing school districts “Nobody in our school ever goes to a 4 year college let alone college at all”; and we also hear, “Why even apply to college if I’d never be able to afford it?” But after a couple of days on a goCAMPUSing College Tour, a talk with our goCAMPUSing College Advisor, and sitting through a College Info Session, their entire world seems to open up before them, (I love it when that happens).
It’s simple, nobody ever seemed to explain to these high school students early enough – when they were high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or even rising seniors – that GRADES and SCORES really matter. As a matter of fact, being poor and coming from a bad school actually helps. Not just to get into any college, but to get into the top brand name colleges and universities…and even the Ivy League Colleges.
You hear it from College Admissions People all of the time – DIVERSITY! Colleges want a diverse student population. More and more colleges & universities are worried that their student populations are becoming dominated by students with privileged backgrounds.
College’s love applications from high school seniors with great grades, high ACT & SAT scores, and represent an alternative socioeconomic background than their college’s current student makeup. In fact, colleges proactively seek out these applicants, but there is just so much proactive outreach a college can do. Once again, it’s up to the high school student, their family, and their high school counselor to let them be aware of the possibilities.
That’s where goCAMPUSing’s mission comes in once again – we truly care about kids finding there right college FIT – and that means the cost of college as much as the vibe.
Did you know that although top brand & Ivy League colleges have spent thousands of dollars to attract and create incentives for these students to apply year after year – they all report the numbers of low income students matriculated barely budge.
And lastly, how about some colleges that not only offer these high school students FREE TUITION, but FREE ROOM and BOARD. These students have demonstrated perseverance and determination in the face of economic and educational adversity. Free is a whole lot less expensive than any State or Community College charges.
So if your SAT & ACT scores were high enough, you should be able to do the math and figure out the odds of how a smart & deserving kid from a negative environment can be accepted into a top brand college with a scholarship – where so few with his/her background never even think of applying.
We say…”pretty good.”
Learn so much more and get the full picture and come on a goCAMPUSing College Tour.
January 15, 2013
FAFSA – COLLEGES ARE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK –
CHILDREN OF PARENTS
WHO MAY BE DIVORCED, SEPARATED, or NON-TRADITIONAL
Nothing is ever as simple as it seems and rarely does anything ever stay the same. This holds true for the FAFSA, (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) financial aid rules and regulations – it isn’t simple and there were some modifications made this January 2012; as well as how many colleges now look at a families financial information, estimated need, and income.
The most important change is probably how FAFSA along with many colleges now look at applying students of divorced or separated parents plus children of a same sex marriage.
In years past, the general rule was that FAFSA and colleges would just request the financial information of just one of the custodial parents, but now FAFSA wants the financial history of the “primary” custodial parent. No more picking the parent’s income and financial resources that makes the child look needier. This also becomes an issue with parents with 50/50 joint custody where both incomes are required. This kind of makes the parents have their child stay a weekend longer at one parent’s house than the other. But don’t think FAFSA or college admissions offices are stupid; they’ll compare the resident’s address with the address of the high school to see the proximity of the district they attend from their primary residence.
Some colleges go a step further and request to see documentation (proof) that a non-custodial parent hasn’t paid child support. If they did, a college will assume that the non-custodial parent would be available to help with college tuition.
The same holds true for stepparents, colleges will evaluate whether a stepparent should contribute to their stepchild’s college expenses. The nuance of expecting a stepparent to contribute anything is usually determined whether both natural parents are assuming financial support. Then there is the issue of abandonment. Questions of how long ago and how long a stepparent has been involved in the upbringing of their stepchild need to be answered?
Then there are the un-amicable divorces where one parent or both are hesitant to honestly divulge personal financial information fearing additional divorce and child support litigation.
Due to the number of children applying to colleges from broken homes and nontraditional family structures, most colleges say they now tailor financial aid packages to a family’s unique situation.
goCAMPUSing admits that we are NOT financial experts, but we do know the issues at hand. We are the first to suggest EVERY parent of a child applying to college, whether they think they can get any financial aid or not to seek assistance from an EXPERT like – LOCKWOOD COLLEGE CONSULTING, INC. Professionals like Any Lockwood are dedicating to understanding ALL of the nuances of FAFSA and navigating the College Financial Aid process. It would be unfair to your child not to investigate all of the financial aid that may be afforded and due them.
January 7, 2013
NON-REQUIRED OR OPTIONAL ACT AND SAT SCORES – REALLY?
Just about every high school student studying for, practicing for and worrying about has heard that there are colleges/universities that DO NOT REQUIRE SATs or ACTs…and that sounds great – not having to study and take tests whose grades determine what colleges accept them.
Well that’s TRUE…but only to a point. There are over 800 colleges in the US that admit all or many students without SAT and/or ACT scores, and more are dropping the SAT & ACT requirement each year. 80 more were added to that list in 2012. You can see a list of the colleges/universities that “say” they don’t require SAT & ACT scores or that the tests are optional on FAIR TEST, a National Center for Fair and Open Testing. The website is: www.fairtest.org where you can find a listing of SAT & ACT optional schools.
But here’s the rub – SAT & ACT are “Not Required” or are “Optional” does NOT always mean “Not Required” or “Optional”. ALWAYS check with a college/university Admissions Office for clarifications regarding their SAT & ACT specific admissions requirements.
Some colleges who appear not to require SAT & ACT scores or say they’re optional may still require SAT & ACT scores from out-of-state applicants. Other colleges/universities overlook SAT & ACT scores only if the applicant has a certain HS GPA, while others ask to see SAT & ACT scores if the GPA or class ranking isn’t high enough. Some universities say they don’t use SAT & ACT scores…but some of their college programs do. And then there are other colleges who don’t require SAT & ACT scores but you have to take their own Entrance Exam to qualify for admissions. But let’s also not forget the colleges a High School Student may have on their Reach, Target, and even Safety schools that may not require or have SAT & ACT scores as optional…if a student is not accepted from those in his or her first round…will the other last minute college choices have the same SAT & ACT requirements?
So it really isn’t that cut and dry. That’s why asking is so important and to know early enough so High School students have the time to register, prepare, and take the SAT & ACT. Although, making these scores optional to report appears to be the trend…80 colleges can require them again as quickly as 80 were added this past year.
This is another reason why it is so important for a college bound high school student to VISIT the college campuses they want to apply to and sit through an Admissions Session…because then a High School Student can ask that very question and get the correct and complete answer directly from the source…and ask any and all follow-up questions such as, how many students are accepted that do not report their scores??
December 7, 2012
DROPPING OUT FRESHMAN YEAR
After years of serving as a high school guidance counselor and as a director of guidance, I am always amazed of the great talents our young people have to offer. Not all are college bound, but all of them have a dream in which they aspire to accomplish. Most know that no dream can be achieved without going off to college. However, as they agree college is an important next step, more than half of college bound students visit less than three colleges during their search. I understand that some families face limitations that would allow the time or resources to visit colleges such as time off from work and/or paying travel expenses to visit colleges. Now more than ever families face hard choices about being able to afford the time and cost to visit schools. However, this is the most important part of the college process or a better phrase would be the college “investment”.
A college education is one of the biggest investments in both time and money someone will ever make in their lives. It costs tens of thousands of dollars and at the very least will be a 4 year time investment, plus the education one receives will impact on what a college graduate will do for the rest of their lives. I explain this to families that you are “shopping” for a place to make a future.
National statistics show that commonly 20-35% of college students dropout in their freshman year. There are a variety of reasons given to this high attrition rate, from financial burdens, academic disqualification, geographic location, and on & off campus housing issues - to - physical & mental health problems, the lack of family support, and a poor “social fit” with that college or university.
Most of these issues can be identified and addressed long before being accepted to a college. There are many steps a high school student and their family can undertake well before they ever send in an application - and the earlier in high school the better. It begins by KNOWING what college life is all about. It’s about KNOWING about the differences in colleges. It’s about KNOWING as much as one can about the colleges one is thinking about applying to. It’s KNOWING what a college is looking for from an applicant. It’s KNOWING what college funding is available to get into college let alone a particular college. It’s VISITING the college firsthand. It’s TALKING to college administrators, the students on campus, walking around, seeing the classrooms & dorms — basically “kicking the tires” and seeing if it’s a GOOD FIT.
When I ask parents what is stopping you from visiting colleges the answers I receive pinpoint the major problem in the college process. It is too intimidating and I did not know where to begin. I am here to tell you, it begins with stepping on to a college campus. Students need to see the surroundings, see the other students, and feel if they belong. They need to sense if they “fit” in. Once students begin this first step, the rest will become easier. As a matter of fact, research has shown students who visit more colleges will less likely transfer out of college and/or drop-out. Also, students will most likely graduate in four years from college.
So, the fact that so many college students dropout in their first year should be at least ONE reason that a college bound high school student should make the effort to see at least what a college campus looks like. And considering that they’re so different a student should see at least three. And at most, a student absolutely must visit the colleges that they are applying to, before they apply. That is a MUST. I will go into more about the reasons to visit a college in other BLOGS giving more reasons why making a college visit could actually BENEFIT a student to being accepted to the colleges he/she applies to.
May 20, 2012
AS A FORMER GIRL SCOUT, A CURRENT COLLEGE STUDENT, AND A DAUGHTER.
I guess not that many people realize that the idea behind goCAMPUSing actually began as “my” Girl Scout Gold Award Project. It’s true, it was my idea. The trip I arranged was basically just a handful of students on a bus and we visited a few colleges in Pennsylvania. However the goal behind a Gold Award is to create something could be sustainable. That was hard to do, so after talking to my parents about keeping the idea going, and then getting advice from my high school guidance counselor, they developed my Gold Award project into something I had never expected — goCAMPUSing a full blown college tour company. The company now takes groups of high school students to visit and tour colleges all over the East Coast from all over the country. OMG! My Gold Award project has grown a bit since I went to college.
Recently I was asked to speak at a Girl Scouts of Nassau County event called EMPOWER ME. I was asked questions from Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts about what college life is like, however what I wanted to tell them is the importance of…yes…going to visit colleges. It totally changed my perspective on the colleges I applied to and eventually the college I was offered admission to and happily accepted. Villanova University was never on my radar until I saw it begrudgingly with my Mom.
I had wished I had seen more colleges earlier in my high school years, maybe in the 10th grade. I would have understood the entire process better and even though my grades were very good I could and would have done something to make myself more “attractive” to college admissions people. And I wouldn’t have been such a pain about seeing colleges with my parents if I just understood what my Mom, Dad, and even my HS Guidance Counselor was trying to get me to understand.
I think part of being a teenager is resisting doing stuff with parents tagging along. I also don’t think kids get much from their first college tour with parents along. I’ve seen many college tours now, with the guide walking backwards talking about the campus and those parents are right next to the college guide while their children are trailing way behind on cell phones. On a goCAMPUSing tour, the goCAMPUSing guides and counselors are in the rear, (we’ve heard it all before), and the students WITHOUT their parents are right up front AND asking questions. Why? I think it is because they’re responsible for hearing everything. It’s all about them. They ask about costs and tuitions, besides majors and teacher to student ratios. To be totally honest, I was mortified when my Dad on a trip asked a question…but when I was by myself I asked a bunch of questions. I felt like “I” owned the process; and after all it was all about me.
My Mom and Dad appreciated how the experience of visiting colleges changed me. I must admit it did. I took high school and the entire college admissions process so much more seriously and I appreciated the financial end of it too. I had to find those colleges that not only were a perfect fit for me, but a college that my parents could afford. That was another thing about the college tours, the insight that the college admissions people give you go well beyond what you can get on the internet.
I’m not saying, because I’m not, that parents shouldn’t go on college tours with their kids, they should…but it really is a lot less expensive and time consuming for a parent to send their kid on a goCAMPUSing tour first — and frankly it is a whole lot more fun for the student as well! Seeing a few colleges earlier on in a student’s high school career is a real eye opener. It can really change the academic road that you’re on. Later, after a student has a better understanding about the differences in colleges, what it takes to get into them and how much they cost, THEN I think it is the perfect time for parents to see the schools that they are interested in. And I think parents will be surprised of the wise selections and wealth of knowledge their children have about the colleges and the entire college selection and application process.
I really want to thank Girl Scouts, and my Mom, (my Girl Scout Troop Leader), for giving me the opportunity to have created an idea that really helps both high school boys and girls find the colleges that are right for them that also works out for their entire family. goCAMPUSing has truly turned into something kinda wonderful.
January 4, 2012
PENNY WISE AND TIME FOOLISH…Selecting a College.
It takes most parents 17 years, or more, and a lot of personal and financial sacrifice to save up enough money to send a child off to college. However, typically just weeks into a child’s senior year in high school with only a month or two before college admissions applications to colleges are due, many parents and their child scramble to find the college that will be the beneficiary of tens and often time one hundred of thousands of those hard earned dollars.
Seventeen plus years of savings spent on a decision made with practically no pre-planning of where to spend it. Many parents and high school seniors make the college choices sight unseen and with little to no understanding of the college/university to which they are applying. They scramble to build up their resume of school and community involvement; and regret the easy classes they took in their 10th & 11th grades.
Think about it. Most people spend more time picking out a new car to buy, and they usually had previous experience with that make of car. They asked their friends who own the car what they think about it. Then they go to the auto showroom walk around the car, kick the tires, and then take a test drive. Then they’ll negotiate with a salesperson until a deal is agreed upon. That’s just for a car! How about a house? That purchase not only takes months to find, but people not only check out the neighborhood & schools, but have a professional home inspector go through the house tooth ‘n nail.
So, why make a choice in college in a month or two? College costs more than a car, and can cost almost as much as a house. It will be where a child not only spends 4 years but the college will mold his or her future. It is where they decide on a career and make lifelong friends. Some of those friends they’ll date, and for more than a few, one of those friends will be the person they will marry. And for some college graduates, they will remain in the area of the college/university that they attended. For most, the college they choose is the center and the driving force of their future. Choosing a college is a life changer and not a decision to be made lightly.
Fact, most parents and high school seniors HAVE NEVER visited all the colleges that they apply to. Most high school students DO NOT KNOW the differences between different colleges by size, majors offered, academic requirements, location, and social environment. Many parents and students DO NOT understand the Early Application and Early Decision Process.
For parents and high school students it is never too early to start looking into colleges, but it can be too late to start the process. Starting the initial college process as early as in the 9th grade not only allows students to sculpt their high school courses to a particular college or major, but makes the entire idea of going to college REAL.
Remember TIME is MONEY and COLLEGE is a child’s FUTURE. Take the time to invest in them wisely.
November 14, 2011
THE COMMON APP – (APPEARANCE)
No we’re not talking about the Common Application Process; we’re talking about a high school student’s whimsical observations of what all college campuses have in common. On a recent goCAMPUSing tour, one of the high school students on the tour was amazed how different each college was from another, but being a determined and a typically sarcastic high school teenager, she took the time to identify the “common appearances” of what all of the colleges seemingly DID have in common with one another.
We thought we’d share this one high school student’s humorous observations of the factors that MAKE EVERY COLLEGE THE SAME with our readers:
- A Dunkin Donuts
- Construction going on somewhere on its campus
- A painted rock
- An unidentifiable statue
- Blue emergency lights all over the campus
- A waffle maker in the bookstore that makes imprints of the college’s logo
- Slow moving and grossly overweight (fat) squirrels
- College students who wear short pants regardless of how cold it is outside
- Alcohol bottles on windowsills of student dorm rooms
- That ONE fact that each college possesses that NO other college can say like: being the oldest or first in doing something, or doing something newer or more recent, or spending the most money on one thing or another, or keeping some program or building running for the longest uninterrupted period of time. There is always that “ONE THING” they boast about that no other college can say.
We suggest YOU take a tour and see if YOU can find anything else colleges might appear to have in common. Otherwise they are all as different as DAY ‘n NIGHT from one another. Viva the difference and we hope you find the college that fits YOUR uniquely personal requirements.
November 3, 2011
YES, YOU’RE REALLY HERE.
On a recent goCAMPUSing college tour, one of the tenth grade high school students exiting the bus paused on the bottom step. His eyes were wide open and his mouth slightly gapping, as he took out onto the sprawling campus. His “body language” screamed, “I can’t believe I’m at college.” I had to say, “Yes, you’re really here” and we both laughed.
All during the long bus ride to visit SUNY schools this young man and his high school buddies were joking around and being carefree teenagers acting like they were just going on just another “school trip”. The transformation started to show when we were a few miles away from our first stop. Our onboard counselor handed out the folders with our college info sheets and talked about our first visit – SUNY New Paltz. It was when we drove onto the campus that the noisy chatter on the bus suddenly fell silent. They realize they are on their own and they are getting a peek of their future; and it’s very different from what they know. (This happens almost all the time when taking a group to their first college campus. It’s the “awe factor”; and I still get a little chill when an entire bus of teenagers falls silent and stare out the windows).
Each college campus gets its own unique reaction. Campuses like SUNY colleges get the “oh my goodness – it’s so big” reaction, while the University of Delaware gets the “it looks just what I thought a college would look like”. The Ivy League colleges evoke more of the, “I can’t believe I’m here” reaction. Then there are the “I never thought it looked like this…”, and the “oh my… this is it?” Some are said in a positive tone and others are said in a deflated gasp.
If a student’s initial idea of what a particular college is like comes only from watching an online video tour and listening to a handful of 30 second video clips of college students, there could be a real eye opener when that high school student actually steps onto a campus. For some who visit colleges early in their HS years they realize they have a chance to refocus themselves academically and enhance their extracurricular activities to improve their chances of getting into a particular college. For others it’s a reality check. They may have held preconceived notions of how great or bad a college was only to discover an alternate reality. This is a great learning experience for 9th, 10th, and 11th graders, but it can be heartbreaking seeing a 12th grade high school senior’s bubble being burst and panic emerge because they’re seeing their top choice college for the first time in person and they DON’T LIKE IT, what’s worse… they have no plan “B” and college applications are due in a couple of months or less. (It is a time like this when having a professional college advisor along on every goCAMPUSing tour becomes extremely beneficial by offering professional college selection/application advice and options to discuss with their parents.)
We at goCAMPUSing also hear it from some college students on the campuses. In most cases, we go beyond the college’s student tour guide and frequently stop a college student on campus and ask what they like and don’t like about the college. Usually when we hear more than one or two negatives, like “I don’t like the tofu-loaf served on Wednesdays”, or, “they’re too strict on drinking” [hurrah for those colleges], or too large a class size, we ask and quickly discover for the most part that these students never visited the college until they got accepted. They applied sight unseen. Occasionally we come across a very unhappy college student who NEVER visited the campus and just looked at the college’s website videos and some “virtual tour” with videos of current students. These students complain about class sizes are too big, feeling of being lost, or nothing to do on or off campus, or that they just didn’t like the “vibe”.
Parents and high school students have to understand that just because one person likes or dislikes a college doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. Everybody likes ice cream… some people love chocolate, while others love vanilla, and some love rum raisin. Do you like rum raisin? And do you like it in a cup, waffle or sugar cone? The point is EVERYBODY is DIFFERENT! And we’re just talking about an ice cream cone. High school students are going to spend 4 to 5 years of their lives in a college. Parents are going to shell out tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a decision primarily made by a 17 – 18 year old. When picking a college it takes more than checking out the website and seeing a brochure. You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it, kicking the tires, and taking a test drive.
goCAMPUSing simply wants to allow high school students an opportunity to get the most firsthand, in-the-flesh, face-to-face, honest information about as many colleges and universities they possibly can. We’re not saying that the information a college website offers is not important, it is! We’re not saying high school students’ shouldn’t visit their final choice schools with their parents, they should! goCAMPUSing just allows high school students to visit MANY college campuses to get a foundation and an understanding of the differences of colleges and to determine what “FITS” them. goCAMPUSing does its best to make these college tours affordable and doesn’t disrupt the parents’ schedules.
The nicest thing I get from running a goCAMPUSing tour is talking to the high school students at the end of each tour day and they’re so focused about improving grades, finding some community program to participate in, and probably for the first time since kindergarten they are LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING TO SCHOOL.
October 18, 2011
READY… SET… IT’S NOVEMBER! IF YOU JUST START THINKING ABOUT COLLEGE IN YOUR SENIOR YEAR YOU’RE ALREADY IN THE BACK OF THE PACK.
Unfortunately, so many high school students don’t begin thinking about college until the summer before their senior year or as they begin their senior year and start the college application process. Students who only begin thinking about college as a senior will find themselves rushing to catch up. Here’s why.
High school students who discover early what it takes to get into college have a chance to either “turn things around” by improving their grades, or if they’re good, get their grades even better. It is never too early to bring up your class grades, hone your study skills, read and build your vocabulary, and push yourself academically. Besides creating a school transcript to be proud of, you’ll quickly discover how good study habits and a rich vocabulary will help you in the SATs, ACTs, and your college essay writing. My daughter loves Villanova but at times says she wishes she had seen UVA earlier in HS so she might have had a different attitude about her already great but not good enough transcript and ACTs.
High school students can build their resume or “brag sheet” by joining in schools extracurricular activities like sports, band, orchestra, and other clubs. Colleges love to see a high school student who participates in school activities consistently, but picky colleges are looking for a little more. Colleges are looking for students who distinguish themselves and contribute in the extracurricular activities they belong to. Colleges are also looking for students who go above and beyond their high school. Many high school students offer similar resumes with band memberships and some sporting activity, so colleges are looking for applying students who are active in their community and therefore show interest and want to play a role in the “adult world”. These community activities can be anything from being involved in an organization that addresses social issues to having a part-time job. Too many high school students don’t put down the great organizations they have been involved with – like Girl Scouts, or fail to understand the sense of responsibility having a job conveys to a college admissions department.
Then there are the relationships high school students can develop with teachers. Yeah, teachers are human beings. They have families and understand how tough it is to get into college. Many have children the ages of the students they teach and most became teachers because they care about the kids they teach. When students demonstrate respect and passions teachers can more easily identify students as individual people. Being noticed for being nice is a big plus in getting a teacher to like a student and want him or her to succeed and therefore be willing to write an impressive letter of recommendation.
It’s almost too late to begin deciding what colleges to apply to when so many seniors apply to colleges in November for EARLY DECISION, EARY ACTION, ROLLING DECISION, or SINGLE CHOICE EARLY ACTION. Students don’t have a clue what the differences in size schools mean or how different an urban, suburban, or rural setting school is. Now there is nothing wrong with a student thinking they want to attend a college or university in any environment, from the sounds of traffic to the tweeting of birds, or the call of the wild, but knowing is everything when it comes picking the right college that is the best fit. And our goCAMPUSing mantra is knowing is seeing! And seeing a college BEFORE a student’s senior year is oh so important in the college application process. And if you are a Senior and haven’t been yet then we suggest you hop on the bus and let’s get going!!
So when a student wants to be in the race to get into college, it would be nice if they not only knew how challenging the course is but where their finish line is as well. The sooner a high school student gets into the process the better they can prepare themselves, choose the course that fits their needs and goals, and most importantly end the race where they want to be.
Some may think the READY… SET… GO analogy is too harsh, but when there are thousands of graduating high school students applying to only a fraction of the openings, the race analogy turns more from a track event to roller derby. Nothing is sadder than seeing a student being rejected from a college that they might have gotten into or never applying to a college they could have be accepted and would have loved spending the next 4 years.
September 21, 2011
A PERFECT 10 STARTED IN THE 9TH
As I sit here smiling in my college dorm room writing this blog entry, it is testimony that I picked the right college to attend. To me it’s a perfect 10. It doesn’t matter what college it is, it’s the right one for me. Everybody is different, and that’s true for high school and college students alike. I’ve spoken to some of the other students here on campus who don’t absolutely love this university as much as I do. For them, it isn’t the perfect fit; maybe an 8 or a 7. I’ve even run across a couple of people who really don’t like it and wished they went to another college. I feel sorry for them, but I completely understand. Some only visited the school after they were accepted and some never looked at another school. I’ll never understand how someone can apply to a college without seeing it. When I was visiting colleges I had some preconceived ideas, but when making my visit to a few college I realized that my expectations didn’t match what I heard and saw. Amazingly, my best friend from high school fell in love with some of the very same schools that I swore I’d never attend. It became quickly apparent how important it was to see a bunch of colleges to understand the differences between them. And to be totally honest, this college, “my college” was never on my radar until I stepped onto its campus. This by the way shocked my parents. But this entire college process, for me to find and eventually position myself to get accepted into a college, didn’t start as a senior in high school. It didn’t start in my junior or sophomore year. My college process started in the 9th grade, as a high school freshman.
I must admit that as a 14 year old high school freshman the last thing on my mind was what college I would be attending. I was still adjusting to the idea of high school. But, my parents and my high school guidance counselor knew how competitive the entire college process was and how whatever I did in high school counted. They didn’t push me but, they did nudge and guide me along the way.
Colleges do look at your high school record, grades, and transcripts. They see what classes you took and how you challenged yourself academically. They’re also going to want to know how you spent your spare time. Were you involved in extracurricular school activities, part of a club, involved in some community service project, or have a part-time job? They’ll look and they want to know. The more challenging your courses are, the more you’re involved with high school activities, and how active you are outside of school the more attractive you are to a college’s admissions people. Good high school grades are great, but most colleges are looking for a well-rounded student, who pushes themselves academically, shows interest in their school, and gets involved in their community.
So here is a quick outline of a college process starting from the 9th grade. Sure, it’s not perfect for everybody, but it worked for me.
In the Ninth Grade:
- Meet with your high school guidance counselor to discuss your interests and possible career goals.
- Discuss with your counselor and your parents the classes you choose to make them challenging enough to fit a balanced course load and not overly stress your academic abilities. Keep in mind that AP classes have weighted grades, so an 85 in an AP chemistry class in high school might be “better” than someone with a 95 in a regular high school chemistry class might. Colleges take into consideration the level of materials taught in an AP class, and they also acknowledge the academic challenge a high school student undertook.
- Participate in extracurricular activities in high school and other areas, like scouting, or with community organizations. Colleges see this as a demonstration of passion and commitment, besides showing that you are a balanced individual with outside interests. On a personal note, I’ve found these extracurricular activities added a degree of fun and were also a stress reliever to my academic workload.
In the Tenth Grade:
- It’s another school year and closer to getting more serious about going to college. A visit to see your guidance counselor on a more regular basis to discuss your classes, to figure out what pre-requisite classes you might need to take, and figure out how rigorous a course load you can handle. Discuss how to build your “resume”, and talk about your dreams about your future. Your guidance counselor should be able to guide and advise you on the path to attain your goals, as they develop and change during your entire high school career.
- If you hadn’t been doing it over the summer break, you had better be studying for the PSATs, SATs, and ACTs. It’s also time to take the PSAT. Taking this test in the 10th grade will not only allow you to familiarize yourself with the tests, but it’ll set your baselines of what your scores are. It will show your strengths that you might be able to build on and the weaknesses that you’re going to have to work on.
- Now is also the time to increase your extracurricular activities. Colleges want to see growth. Getting involved in student government and clubs shows leadership and teamwork abilities, besides an increased level of interest in your school and the world outside of academics.
- Get to know your teachers better and let them know you better. In your junior year they may be the teachers you ask to write a letter of recommendation for you to apply to a college.
- Read. Reading will help build your vocabulary and grammar; help you with your English scores on tests, come in real handy when writing college essays, and trust me, in college reading comprehension and writing ability is BIG in college.
In the Eleventh Grade:
- Now the college process takes on a faster and more critical pace and the stresses build, as if the class work and tests alone aren’t enough. You’ll find that your classmates and extracurricular activities, like sports, will relieve a lot of those tensions and stress.
- The eleventh grade is “the” grade colleges look at first to see your latest grades, so make it as challenging and rigorous class schedule as you as you can, BUT don’t think you will be able to slack off in your senior year, colleges look for that too. They want to see a continual growth progression. If not in grades, in challenges.
- Keep visiting your guidance counselor for advice and guidance so you correctly follow the process. Have your parents meet with the guidance counselor so all of you are on the same page to discuss everything from college choices, the finances, and scholarships, and all of the factors that everybody should be aware of. I can’t tell you how many of my friends were only looking at state colleges because of costs only to discover that the private college they really wanted to go to offer a scholarship and was cheaper.
- Take the SATs and ACTs tests and take them early just in case you want a “do-over”. Don’t wait to take them in your senior year, especially if you’re thinking of applying to a college for Early Decision. Your scores may not be released in time to provide them to a college. So keep that in mind.
- Now is also the time for you to seriously research the colleges. Ask your guidance counselor, talk to your parents, contact colleges you might be interested in to send you brochures, AND look them up on the internet; not only their official website, but other websites on the internet that talk about the college or student life on that college campus. Find out where the colleges are and what the colleges offer in academic majors, facilities, sports, clubs, Greek life, student population in size and culture, what are the tuition and other costs, what are the requirements, how many students apply, how many are accepted, and how many attend. There is so much and almost too much to ask, that’s why once you have an “idea”…take the time and make the effort to visit a college campus, even if it isn’t a college that you’re really interested in. Seeing a whole bunch of colleges turns your perceptions into realities. What really is a BIG college? Five thousand undergraduates or 15,000 students. Maybe 1,000 students is a small school, but compared to what? I know that this blog is appearing on a website that promotes college campus visits, but however you get to see a college, a “virtual” tour doesn’t even come close to walking a campus, talking face-to-face with admissions people, and talking to students walking on the campus and asking them questions about the college and their good and bad experiences. Just like me, you’ll quickly discover that what is Great for one student is a Negative for another. You’ll never pick-up on that nuance from a website or a virtual tour.
- So now, go on a college visit. Do a few. As many varying colleges as you can. Get a better idea what type and kind of colleges have that “feel” and seem to offer that “perfect fit”. So many of my friends changed their mind about which colleges they thought they wanted to attend versus the colleges they visited and eventually applied and were eventually accepted to and currently attend.
- Attend college fairs that colleges give in your area. Visit the booths of the colleges that interest you and let them KNOW that you are THERE. It helps when colleges see that you’re interested. They really do keep records of how many times you visited the campus, visited their booths at college fairs, called for info, and even email their admissions department with questions. And every act of interest on your part is counted in your favor.
In the Twelfth Grade:
- By now your guidance counselor is one of your best friends. You will take his/her advice and keep up your class load and grades, because colleges will still see the classes and the grades of your first semester, and that information can make or break a lot of what you’ve been working so hard to achieve.
- Work Closely with your guidance counselor on a timeline of everything you need and ALL your due dates and deadlines.
- You should have already worked on a few drafts of your college essays, rewritten them, and revised them to make them the best you can do.
- Identify with your parents and your guidance counselor what your college choices are: the Reach Schools, the Target Schools, and the Safety Schools.
- Early on in your senior year make sure you’ve retaken any of the SATs, SATIIs, and ACTs that you need.
- Complete the Common College App, or any ON-LINE College Applications, or Written Applications you need to fill out. Check them over BEFORE you send them OUT.
- SEND THEM OUT.
- Confirm with your high school that THEY sent out everything needed by the colleges where you applied.
- Work with your parents, guidance counselor, and maybe even a “college funding advisor” to look into and apply for financial aid.
- Around April of your senior year many colleges will start notifying you via snail and email.
- After you get them all; make your decision and notify them your decision to accept or not. Remember there are others on waiting lists, so the sooner YOU let the colleges know the sooner your peers will know if it is a NO or a YES.
- Then you can enjoy your high school graduation and the rest of the summer. Make the best of it, cause starting in the fall…your life is going to change.
June 6, 2011
SERIOUS COLLEGE APPLICATIONS VERSUS EASY OR SAFETY APPLICATIONS
Okay, just so you know, some of the references in this BLOG are going to relate to Villanova University because my daughter was just accepted and matriculated this fall and she is enjoying it immensely.
Colleges and Universities in the United States this past year were inundated by student applications. Villanova University received over 15,000 applications for their 2011 Fall Semester, but Villanova only has a freshman class size of around 1,700 students. So why did Villanova, known for having a very selective acceptance level send out more than twice as many Applicant Acceptance Letters than they can accept into the Freshman Class of 2011?
For many of these applicants Villanova wasn’t their first, or even their second, fifth or tenth choice. Far too many high school students today are sending out an application to several and as many as 20+ colleges. Partly it is due to the Common Application making it easy to apply and for others there is a philosophy that the more you apply to the better your chances are of being accepted to a good school. So when any one of their top three or four choices accepts that student, they just declines all other acceptance letters.
This situation is not unique to Villanova and some colleges are having trouble dealing with the number of applications so they have instituted measures to help control “frivolous” applications. One of the measures some colleges are undertaking is asking for exorbitant application fees. Application fees usually run around $25-$35 but now some colleges are asking for as much as $70 to process an application and even higher.
So the question arises, in the din of the tens of thousands of frivolous college applications a college receives, HOW can a college know that their college or university is really a sincere choice and that YOUR APPLICATION IS SERIOUS?
Simple. Visit the colleges you think you want to attend before you apply. Send them emails and ask for information to be sent to you. Go to College Fairs where “that” college will be presenting and introduce yourself to the college admissions representative who serves your area. And FACEBOOK the college. Ask lots of questions. Demonstrate that you are interested.
At least two things will happen when high school student does these things. ONE, a student will get to know the college and realize if they really want to go there before they expend the energy, time, and money to apply and instead focus on a college they really do want to attend. TWO, making the effort to visit the college’s campus as well as all the email and snail mail exchanges with the admissions office are recorded and logged and that demonstrates your “interest” in their college.
The Benefit? Two students with similar backgrounds, maybe even from the same high school, the exact same grades, and scores, and very similar resumes apply to the same school. But one of them NEVER visited the college or made any overtures to the college, the demonstrated interest in the college admissions office is:
One student REALLY WANTS to attend the college and this is a SAFTEY SCHOOL for the other, so the second one gets a “better” offer, they’re gone. So send an acceptance letter to the student who has demonstrated interest.
So remember, when a high school student is applying to a college, they’re not being compared to ONE other student with similar grades and resume, think of the over 15,000 applicants who applied to Villanova this past year. How many of the 5,000 who received acceptance letters from Villanova took the time to visit the college and tour the campus. My guess…most of them.