Career Fairs Are More Than Marketing Contacts

Career fairs on campus can be a great help to college students who will one day be looking for internships or job.  Open career fairs held in large venues hold opportunities for graduates or otherwise employed persons.  Some fairs will be industry specific, others will attract employers from all fields.


What          Career fairs are organized according to a floor plan with tables or booths for employers.  Most will be staffed by several people so that everyone who wants to introduce themselves will be able to connect with at least one of the staffers.

Where        Advertising of the event is in the campus newspaper, career office and on bulletin boards.  Off campus fairs are marketed on the radio, in the newspaper, online and by email invitation.   Usually there will be a list of participating companies and their openings.

Who            Behind the table you’ll find team leaders, hiring managers, department heads, maybe an marketing representative.   Introduce yourself using first and last name; doing so makes you seem more confident. Mention the program or opportunity that attracted you; it could be that you are familiar with the brand.  Address the representative as Mr., Ms., Sir as a mark of deference: these are people who will decide to invite you for an interview.

Why              Even if you aren’t attracted by the companies exhibiting, go anyway.  You will get a feel for the culture of the companies you target, especially if the reps are people you could be working with.   Companies have jobs in areas beyond what they are known for.  An insurance company needs computer people, trainers, accountants, R&D, and so on.  If the job you want isn’t currently on offer, meeting someone who works there can give you an inside track when a job is coming available.  Career fairs are a good tool to practice your elevator pitch, find out what matters in the jobs you want at the companies where you want to work.  Of course, its a networking opportunity.   The people you meet will know other people in the field to whom they can recommend you or introduce you: connections are the name of the game in talent acquisition!

How                 Prep for a career fair by choosing companies to target.  Having a plan keeps you from being overwhelmed when you arrive.  If you have the floor plan in advance, locate the tables you want to visit.  Research your target companies and the industry if you are unfamiliar with the players and their context.  Dress as your would for an interview wearing comfortable shoes if they are appropriate.  Revise your elevator pitch to match the jobs you want to discuss.  Have business cards to hand out and copies of your resume, updated for the event.

I have good advice for the research you’ll do before the fair.  Lets make a plan for covering all your bases. or 610-212-6679/



Are You Kidding Me? Paramilitary Course Required At This College

We are all concerned about the safety of students on college campuses.  In some states concern about violence has lead to changes in laws permitting “concealed-” or “open-carry” of weapons regardless of the owner’s having a license.

Given the amount of alcohol consumed by college students we should have a good hard think about the wisdom of adding firearms to the environment.

In Pennsylvania, the law is silent regarding institutions of higher education although weapons are forbidden in lower school settings.  New Jersey and New York prohibit weapons on state college campuses. Virginia allows colleges to decide but only regarding visitors to campus and only in areas where people congregate and are vulnerable.

Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia permits guns without restriction on campus.

As of May, 2017 ten states permit concealed carry on public post-secondary campuses: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.  Nine more permit guns in parking lots and locked cars.

The College of the Ozarks proposes to take guns on campus one step further: a graduation requirement that includes map reading, rifle marksmanship, military organization and protocol, and civic responsibility.

Please read the entire article from Inside Higher Education.

Do you have feedback?  Want to chat about what’s up at college? Lets do it! or 610-212-6679


5 Tips For Making a Good First Impression

“You only get one chance to make a first impression”.  Its an old saying but also very true.  We make first impressions all the time.  The way you walk into a spin class creates a first impression; your degree of politeness in ordering a latte creates another; the person who speaks first in a business meeting offers insight into how you view yourself.


The impression you might want to leave with others varies among situations but you still want to know how to do it right.  We’ll prep for an interview or business meeting and leave you to extrapolate to other venues.

The most important factor in who is hired  is the KLT Factor.  Know, Like, Trust.  Your first impression should create a positive KLT.  Of the three, learning to trust you is the most crucial.  Trust is built by showing respect for the other person through these 5 actions.

1. Be Prepared. You don’t have to be a Boy or Girl Scout to follow this motto.  Know as much as you can about each person you will interact with.   Hobbies?  Community service? Previous employers?  College affiliations?

People like it when you know something about them that they didn’t have to tell you.  Use this info to connect.

2. The person who has the most power in the situation should be the first to speak.  If you are the interviewer, its you; if you are the interviewee, its one of the interview panel.  When you call a meeting at work, you speak first; when you are an attendee, wait for the meeting to start before drawing attention to yourself.  If you are trying to sign a potential client, let the client speak first. You may be the expert but ask “How can I help”to get the conversation started.  No matter how good you are, you can’t show how you can solve the problem until they tell you about it.

3.  Allow some time for small talk- unimportant conversation that takes place before the main agenda is addressed.  You might say, Jeff, I see you are on the Board of  Caring Communities.  How did you get involved?  This shows your interest (you cared enough to look it up), helps make a connection between his service and your own community involvement.

When you are the person with the lesser degree of power or control, being the one to launch the interview may appear aggressive.

4. Watch your body language.  Be as relaxed as possible.  Face the others, make eye contact, lean a bit forward toward the speaker.  No crossed arms, swinging legs, twirling  pencils or fiddling with hair.

5. Be a good listener.  This is important when you are meeting a potential client or a potential employer.   Nod slightly to encourage the person speaking to continue.  Ask relevant questions.  Provide clear answers with examples when asked.

Remember that your goal is to create KLT:  show who you are (be vulnerable and open); be likeable (listen, be empathic, friendly); explain how  you are trusted by others to solve problems.

It is much easier to provide a great first impression than it is to repair damage caused by a negative one!


Be awesome in interviews, nail networking, attract clients: I can help you present your most impressive self when it matters. or 610-212-6679.




Pet Friendly Colleges Attract Students

When considering which colleges you will apply to there are 4 criteria that usually define the search:

Can I get in?    Can I graduate in a reasonable amount of time?  Do they have programs or majors that I want to study?  Can I afford the costs?

Students also take a look at the “extras” a college has on offer.  Those who like to ski will want proximity to winter sports and/or an active ski club.  Astronomy-curious applicants will look at the astronomy offerings, observatory and planetarium.

Each year I learn about another college that combats homesickness and caters to love of animals by opening housing units to beloved pets.  Lyon College in Arkansas is my latest find.  There are restrictions on size but not on genus of the incoming pet.  Dogs, cats and even non-venomous snakes are welcome.

Bringing your four-legged BFF to college implies a commitment to care for the animal.  On most campuses you will have to walk the dog and scoop the poop before the rush to morning classes.  Your dorm-mates will be very unhappy if they step in you-know-what on their way to breakfast.  Consider also, that cat food isn’t one of the snack items available in the bookstore so planning for pet shopping  must be on your to-so list.

Lyon, a small private, liberal arts college, is just one of many that permit students accompanied by pets to live in specified dorms.  MIT (cats), Sweet Briar (horses), Johnson& Wales , Providence (dogs and cats).  Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia hires students to walk the college president’s dogs who spend days in his office; this is a work-study position.

As you make your list of colleges, take time to have a conversation with the admissions rep about bringing Fido or Tweety Bird with you.  Learn the ropes of applying to a pet friendly residence and know the restrictions and responsibilities.  If you want to live with a pet but don’t have one, ask the rep to find a suitable roommate with companion.

For a list of pet friendly colleges use this link:

I know some of you are reading this out of curiosity, not because you hope to have an animal with you but are hoping to find colleges that can meet another need.  Please get in touch so we can talk, in person or via Zoom. or 610-212-6679




Having the Pre-College Money Talk

When I have an introductory appointment with a family who have contracted for my help with college admissions, money and financial aid are always prominent in our discussion. There are 3 typical answers: Naming an amount of money available for this student’s education; “We don’t have a budget” which is usually amended to a number that will cover in-state fees at the flagship university; “We want her to get into the best college possible and we’ll figure it out.”

Most families don’t have enough extra cash in the budget to fully pay for tuition, room & board and fees.   The average amount of money set aside for college expenses covers only tuition at a state university, roughly $10-15 thousand.  So, where will the money come from?

Talking about money, specifically family finances, can be stressful, even embarrassing,   Parents neither want to worry their children or face the prospects of educational debt.  Without financial guidelines for choosing colleges, the potential for daunting debt rises.  You may need to have a parental summit to figure out how much you can afford before bringing the children into the conversation.

Begin to talk about paying for college during freshman year or before.  Start by looking at colleges and their costs before getting into family specifics.  Use your tax return to fill out the Fafsa4caster to predict your EFC, Expected Family Contribution.  While you’re doing research, find definitions for financial aid acronyms.

What should we talk about?  Start with the cost of public and private colleges and universities.   List what the bills will be for.  My daughter, who had a library card, not a membership card at Barns and Noble, was shocked to find that her text books cost over $100 each.  Later, move  the conversation to the amount of family out of pocket funds or assets are available for college.  Finally, discuss who is going to be responsible for which costs.

The advantage of early discussion of parental financial aid is that students can help make decisions on minimizing expenses, work to earn some of the money, and they can begin to apply for scholarships and grants.  Students can apply in their own name at age 13 for aid that will be held until they matriculate.  Even a small scholarship will pay for spending money, books, or transportation.

If you want my free Guide to Affordable College, send me an email, or call 610-212-6679.    I’ll be happy to guide you in preparing for The Money Talk.




What Employers Value In Liberal Arts Grads

I frequently post about the qualities and skills that employers want in the individuals they hire.  Knowing what is sought doesn’t really give job-seekers the language to demonstrate what they can do in the terms the employer uses.

By definition, liberal arts is interdisciplinary.  Students are required to take courses in a broad range of subjects from math to anthropology to macroeconomics to a foreign language.  A student who is learning about  the history of the middle east will use math and macroeconomics to understand and explain the trade routes from N. Africa to China and anthropology and language to investigate the impact of cultural diffusion.  Learning a new discipline encourages students to look at the same bit of information from multiple perspectives.

Liberal arts students study abroad in high numbers.  Experiencing another culture is great training for working in a global economy and make these students valuable to future employers.  Here are excerpts from an article by Anna Peters in the College Recruiter, 3/20/17.  The link to the full article is at the end of this excerpt.

There is a public perception that liberal arts graduates are somehow less valuable. Dr. Ascan Koerner with the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota will tell you why the opposite is true. College Recruiter connected Dr. Koerner with Todd Raphael of ERE Media to learn what his team is doing to make sure employers understand the relevancy of liberal arts students and graduates.

According to Dr. Koerner, we have seen more public discussion in the last 5-10 years about the value of higher education, generally speaking. The arguments for what is valuable have primarily focused on STEM education. (That is, science, technology, engineering and math.) Some believe that in order to be competitive in an international job market, one really has to be focused on STEM. At one end of the spectrum, we see the Governor of Kentucky, who has questioned why universities even have liberal arts programs at all. This makes liberal arts students—and their parents—nervous. Dr. Koerner says that at the University of Minnesota, students are asking how liberal is helpful in their careers. He says their belief in the value of liberal arts has never wavered, “but the question hasn’t been posed to us in such stark terms.”

Employers already value liberal arts, but they don’t realize it

Overall, employers already know the value of liberal arts. The problem is, they don’t recognize it as liberal arts. When you ask employers, for example, what they value, they cite competencies that are quintessential typical liberal arts. At the top of their lists are analytical/critical thinking, communication, leadership, ethnical decision making, and engaging diversity.” Employers know what they value, but the job candidates—the liberal arts students—aren’t always good at explaining their own value. So while colleges and universities bear some of the burden of convincing employers, students bear most of that responsibility. A philosophy major may embody the exact skills needed but when you ask him how his education prepared him for a career in corporate America, he has a hard time. That is why it is so important to engage and prepare students for answering those questions. When the students eloquently explain their own competencies, that is more convincing to an employer than if the institution were to explain the overall value of liberal arts grads.

“We are trying to change how we engage students in their discussion about their education,” says Dr. Koerner. Until recently, they always assumed students knew why they studied liberal arts. But now that these programs are being put into question, colleges and universities must be able to explain their worth. At the University of Minnesota, they aren’t changing what they teach. Instead, they are changing how they engage students and their understanding of their own education. That includes an increased understanding of the competencies they must develop. Rather than just developing content knowledge, they must also understand how this knowledge relates to the larger global world.

Liberal arts students and grads are uniquely prepared for leadership positions, according to Dr. Koerner. He writes the following in “How a liberal arts degree prepares students for managerial success”:

“Liberal arts programs uniquely prepare graduates for leadership and managerial roles in organizations. Liberal arts students are used to using their skills in various contexts, preparing them to better deal with uncertainty. Given the long-term unpredictability of today’s business climate, this adaptability is critical. Furthermore, liberal arts college are also committed to diversity and uniquely prepare students to learn and interact with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is no surprise that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately represented in the c-suites of the nation’s largest and most innovative corporations.”

Job and career competencies go beyond a specific major

Dr. Koerner says, “In Minnesota, we really take a comprehensive approach. It doesn’t just throw a couple career classes at students like some colleges that require career management classes that teach resume writing, interviewing and those important skills. But they don’t necessarily integrate the whole liberal arts education. So to that extent, we really make an effort to involve everybody in the college, and to talk about the value of liberal arts education holistically.”

Students are getting the message that more education is better, so in the last ten years, more students have double majors. “But the liberal arts is really much broader than any one major,” says Dr. Koerner. There are very few majors in the liberal arts that associate with a specific job title. There are some, such as journalism, where many students often end up as journalists. But students who study sociology, psychology or communication, for example, aren’t given a direct link to a job or even a certain industry. Therefore, it’s important to understand the whole value of liberal arts instead of just a major.

The University of Minnesota understands that career preparedness includes readiness for graduate school as well. Dr. Koerner adds that by focusing on competencies, students can be prepared for any career. When you define the competencies broadly enough, he says, they prepare students for “a future that is uncertain and dynamic. We don’t try to teach skills that have an expiration date.” Instead of learning coding, for example, liberal arts students build “more enduring skills.” The University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts has two mottos. First, they understand education as going beyond the major. Second, they prepare students for the fourth or fifth job, not just the first. Even if liberal arts graduates need more initial training for a position that requires specific technical skills, they have all the attributes that will make them successful in the long run. Liberal arts prepares students for lifelong learning and to meet challenges that they will face in the long term.

How does artificial intelligence relate to this?

Dr. Koerner cited a recent study by Carl Frey and Michael Osboren of Oxford University that “suggested that 47% of all employment in the U.S. is at risk of being replaced by automation, including many mid-level technical and engineering positions.” Even in some creative work is taken over by machines. For example in journalism, many press releases are written by robots. After automation, what can humans do that machines can’t? Much of our thinking skills won’t be outsourced. By studying liberal arts, humans maintain their edge over robots by possessing the thinking qualities that machines do not.

My concluding note:

The task for parents and educators is to help students identify the qualities, skills and experiences they acquire while studying liberal arts subjects that align with those an employers wants.  Once identified, the qualifications must sync with the language used by the hiring entity.

For help with this task, lets get together and practice. or 610-212-6679.

Rewire Your Brain For Better Learning

Neuroplasticity.  That’s the term for malleability of our brains and a hot research topic.  No longer do scientists and physicians believe that our brains are formed and finished by the age of 20.  One example of neuroplasticity is the ability of  righties can learn to write with their left hand.   Each of us can train our brain to work more efficiently and help us complete tasks efficiently.  Lets look at a two ways we can harness brain power to learn more efficiently.

1. Alternating periods of focused or intense study with brief periods of brain rest.  Twenty to thirty minutes of concentration separated by five to ten minute breaks help the rain assimilate new material.  We learn by connecting new information to networks of old information already categorized and stored.  The period of unfocused attention gives time for the gray matter to absorb and file the new bits.

During the unfocused intervals reward yourself with music, a walk, staring out the window, an apple or anything that is relaxing.

2.Chunking is the process of breaking large bits of information into smaller, more digestible pieces.  I might have a chunk related to the Russian alphabet or the American Revolution and you might have chunks related to algebraic equations or the periodic table.  The more you use your chunks, the stronger they grow through new connections.  I don’t read Russian any more but knowing some of the sounds helps me identify the spy in a movie.

Breaking material into chunks helps your brain find other bits and pieces that relate to each chunk instead of trying to find matches for a larger, more diverse hunk of information.

Keep in mind that we learn by creating a scaffold of basic material and expand the scaffold with new and related chunks.  Think of the toddler who learns that the big vehicle that makes lots of noise is a truck.  For a time the toddler will call any 4- or more wheeled vehicle a truck.  By trial and error the toddler learns that vehicles are also called cars, buses, tractors and so on.  On a larger scale, that is how all learning takes place.

We facilitate our own learning by feeding new information to our brain in manageable bits that are compared to items on the scaffold to see in what ways they are similar and cataloging the differences.  Items can be assigned to new categories or fit smoothly into existing ones.

Give your thinking cap some help by studying in prescribed cycles and by not over-feeding it at one sitting.

What else would you like to know about effective study strategies?  stephanie@accessguidance has answers!  610-212-6679






Red Flags: This Isn’t The Right Job

Just because there is a position open at a company you want to work for, doesn’t mean that you will find happiness working there.  It is better not to take a job knowing that you are marking time until another opportunity knocks.  Here are some warning signs to make you stop and think before you leap.

1. The job description asks for every skill known to man, or doesn’t tell you what you will need.  When the job posting is well written it has  a list of what the person hired will do and the qualifications most needed for the candidate to succeed.   If you interview, get clarification on the tasks and skills.

2. The interviewer is disorganized, has a disorganized work space, seems confused about why you are interviewing.   Granted, some interviewers won’t have read your resume but you should expect him/her to be on task, ask relevant questions and be able to answer yours.

3. The interviewer admits that the staff works long hours and weekends to get the job done.  Is the work load necessary because of a push or is mandatory overtime SOP for this company?  If there isn’t enough staff to complete the work, its likely that the pay is low and the pressure high.  Such a hiring manager might offer the job during the interview hoping you’ll be flattered and accept.

4.  When talk turns to compensation their range for the position  should be within industry norms for the position.  If the offer is below their stated ball park, benefits are scarce, and you are experienced in the role, the company may be trying to get you cheaply.  If the other aspects of the job seem positive, ask for an short probation period of 3-6 months followed by a performance review and salary bump.

Trust your gut.  Weight the pros and cons of the position, what you will gain in experience against the potential negatives of working in this environment.


I’m here to help you in your job search and your interview prep. or 610-212-6679

2017 Trends in EA and Ed Admissions

Students who applied to colleges for Early Action or Early Decision consideration found that the number of admits was down this year, at least for students in the Delaware Valley.

There could be a number of reasons but one of the most prominent that comes to mind is that the published average SAT and ACT scores of admits in previous years is still being reported by Old SAT numbers.  New scores are about 70 points higher making mid-50% applicants using the published figures about 70 points lower than those who are being admitted.

Lets say you want to attend Exton College with a mid-50% range of  1400-1500 according to the college website.   The actual numbers using New SAT scores is 1470-1570.  The applicant with a 1410 is now below the mid-50% mark.

Colleges are also taking a closer look at how the applicants will fare on campus in leadership roles and other qualities they bring to campus.  More than stats matter in admission decisions.

An important factor is where the student chooses to apply.  Most colleges and universities try to build a class with geographic diversity by admitting students from as many states and international locations as possible.

Consultants have seen an increase in the number of Del Val students applying to the same universities, in particular Penn, Pitt, Maryland, Wisconsin and Villanova among others.  Each new application from a high school or region decreases everyone’s chances of admission.    The remedy is to look farther afield to schools that have fewer applicants from your area.  Think outside the geographic box and beyond where your friends are applying.

Lets get together and plan an application list that adds geography, higher score expectations, and timing to your list of criteria.   Its time for juniors to finalize their lists and for sophomores to begin adding and dropping colleges from their wish lists. or 610-212-6679.  I can meet you in Exton, PA,         Marlton, NJ or in a cyberconference.

New Admissions Status Offered More Often

Its the time of year when admissions decisions are sent to students and a new category is appearing more frequently this year (admission year 2018).    Most students will see a Yes, you are admitted in a welcome email or Sorry, we couldn’t admit you in a denial.   Some students will be offered a place on a wait list, a place in limbo.

The waitlist is a way for colleges to have a go-to list of motivated applicants in case not as many of the admitted students deposit as are needed to fill the class.  Length of the wait list varies from college to college as does the process for cherry picking the students who will be plucked from it for admission.

A change of status for waitlisted students can happen anytime after may 1 when the total of students accepting admission is known.  Many colleges look at the demographics and hard data of the admitted class and choose students from the waitlist who fill in gaps.

This year it appears that an increasing number of colleges are offering something new: Second Year Admission to students as transfers.  Instead of yes, no, maybe, applicants are offered admission as a sophomore if they successfully complete a year at another college.

There are advantages for the student with a strong desire to attend this particular institution.  They are free to accept an offer elsewhere or to save $$ at a community college.  Accepting 2YA is non-binding.

Colleges who admit students into the second year class know that they will be able to fill the spaces of students who choose to transfer out after one year.  Second Year Admission could be a win-win.

As with any admission, compare the financial aid packages before you decide which one to choose.


Are you ready to compare your financial aid offers?  Make an appointment with me so you can make an informed decision! or 610-212-6679