Category: College Bound

College Rankings: Helpful or Harmful?

Guidance counselors and independent educational consultants agree on many things; one of the strongest points for  high fives is disdain for the published college ranking system used by USNWR to sell magazines.  USNWR has about a dozen criteria; each year they manipulate the importance of the individual criteria so that the Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford change positions.  None of the criteria have anything to do with educational outcomes.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy of The College Solution published a blog post listing 15 things that are wrong with the list.  Here are a few of her assessments.

  1.  One variable is ratings by administrators at the colleges in a given category such as Liberal Arts Colleges.  As O’Shaughnessy points out, the president and provost at  Lafayette probably have no idea of what goes on at  Endicott.
  2. Test scores, GPA, class rank help raise the position in USNWR rankings.  Each of these measures tend to be higher for students with more financial resources for a variety of reasons.  Colleges want to enroll students with higher benchmarks, ie wealthier students, skewing admission decisions.
  3. Related to #2 is the distribution of merit aid over need-based aid.  The former encourages wealthier students to attend and reduces resources for less well-heeled students.  With weatlthier students  showing up, costs can and do go up, disadvantaging everyone.
  4. Colleges now market strategically to encourage students that they don’t expect to admit to submit an application.  The more applicants a college denies, the more selective they appear and the higher the rank.  I know of one instance of a Tier One University admissions office personally inviting a student to apply, interview and then deny in a 2 week period near their application deadline.

Here’s the address of the entire article. http://www.thecollegesolution.com/15-things-to-know-about-u-s-news-college-rankings/

There are over 100 colleges and universities that have similar Tier One academic potential and outcomes to Ivies.  They are scattered around the US  and admit students based on many factors beyond the benchmarks.  Education is earned through hard work and where the education is earned is less important than the effort expended to earn it.  As Frank Bruni titled his book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.

Lets work together to develop a list of great colleges where you can thrive academically, be comfortable socially and not send your family to the poor house.  610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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College Interview: Why Should We Choose You?

Scott Mattox

I am an ivy league graduate and have been an alumni interviewer for over 15 years. I ask this question, in various forms, to all my applicants. Having heard hundreds of replies to this question let me first address how not to answer the question. All of the following are actual responses I have gotten over the years.

  1. Do not say I am “hard working, conscientious” etc. This is by far the most common answer. Virtually all applicants are academically successful, and this answer will not serve to differentiate you from them.
  2. Do not say you are a “good person” etc. Self analysis of personality traits is always suspect, and in reference to number 1, I would assume all applicants think that they are good people.
  3. Do not say “I will make the University famous and enhance their reputation.” This is actually a fairly common reply. While in some cases this may ultimately prove to be correct, by no means can anyone reliably predict this outcome. Also while some element of self confidence is good, this type of response borders on arrogance.

The ivies, and likely most elite schools want to have a diversified class. This does NOT mean that they want of lot of diversified students, rather they want students that are exceptional in many different areas. For example they would much rather have someone who excels in one area e.g. : number one tennis player in their state, national science fair winner, or nationally renowned violinist, rather than someone who has all A’s, plays on a few varsity teams, and was in the chorus. Also please know that your interviewer has heard hundreds of answers and can recognize “bullshit” even before it has completely left your mouth. Above all be honest!! Choose an area that you are accomplished in and try to show how the Universities resources can help you achieve a particular goal in this field. The following a some examples of the more successful answers I have received: One applicant started his own successful software company in high school, and was familiar with the University’s strengths in this area and gave specific examples of the courses he would take to further his career goals. Another student started a charity to support a particular school in the caribbean. Her interest was in third world economics, and she was able to show how her acceptance would allow her to work with certain professors to make a difference in this world.

In short, you need to find an area in which you excel, and then show how this University has unique resources to help you achieve specific goals related to this area. If you are honest, the interviewer will see how your acceptance will be mutally beneficial.

Students, this is also how you should answer the question “Why do you want to go here?”  Lets talk about how to show your exceptionality in an interview and on your applications.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

5 Tips For Interview Prep

The best way to have calm nerves when facing an interview is to begin preparing before you get the call.  These 5 are proven and professional.

1. Like a politician, have your talking points ready.  Know your strengths as they relate to the position and your ability to do the job.  Have anecdotes  prepared that show your past performance at these tasks.

2. Your talking points are stories and anecdotes that show your past successes and ability to meet the needs of the role you are interviewing for.  At a college interview  you will show how you will add to the campus culture through your interests and high school experiences.

3, Know who the interviewers will be.  Google them to find commonalities that will make them more familiar and give you points for small talk at the beginning of the interview.  For students, learn if the interviewer is a graduate of the college and prepare a couple of questions to ask about that experience.

4. Know before you go.  The more you know about the role, company and industry the better prepared you will be and the more confident you will feel.  The job-and the college admission-go to the one who can demonstrate their fit.  The only way to do that is to know more than the other candidates!

5. Follow your answer with questions that give the interviewer the opportunity to explain more about the job or company.  Good questions are “What are your top priorities for the person you hire?” or “What do you think first year students should prioritize during the first few weeks on campus?”  You will appear savvy and make the interview more conversational.  A definite stress-buster!

It doesn’t hurt to write down some of the questions you think the interviewer will ask and practice with someone asking them.  Practice getting the information you want the interviewer to know into your conversation to avoid the head-slapping realization that you missed opportunities to sell your best qualities.

I’m ready to practice with you and have dozens of questions we can prep.  Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

Is Your Best Freshman Year A Gap Year?

https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Best-Freshman-Year-Is-a/243563

The Best Freshman Year Is a Gap Year

June 03, 2018

It’s that time of year again. High-school seniors across the country are finishing their final exams, cleaning out their lockers, and getting ready to walk up on stage to accept their diplomas. The students know where they’re going to college, and they’ll busy themselves over the coming months by looking into meal plans, registering for classes, and contacting their future roommates. Admissions deans are still analyzing yield targets with their staff and are already looking at what they could do differently next year. It’s a predictable cycle — except for one wrinkle.

An increasing number of students are questioning whether they are ready to dive straight into four more years of classroom lectures, research papers, and cramming for exams. Many are exhausted and burned out, eager to refuel their curiosity about the world through the kind of learning that won’t appear on a transcript.

Record numbers of students are contemplating a gap year before college, and they are looking for guidance on this important decision from the very colleges that admitted them. With a few exceptions, most students who inquire about a gap year will receive a silent nod from their admissions counselor and another form to fill out. Is that really the best we can do?Over the past five years, many college-admissions offices have adopted policies that allow students to defer their admission offer for one year. The gap year has become increasingly popular with admissions leaders, who have witnessed firsthand its positive impact on students and campus culture. Yet most colleges have remained resolutely agnostic as to what students should do on their gap year, and how they might pay for it.

At first glance this might make sense. The undergraduate clock starts ticking only when an incoming freshman sets foot on campus. Or does it? Not if you believe, as we do, that one of the most effective ways to improve college outcomes is to improve the inputs. A gap year designed with purpose and intent is a journey of personal growth that helps students successfully transition to college.

At a time when traditional four-year colleges are struggling to stay relevant and high-school graduates are hungry for real-­world experiences, why wouldn’t educators weigh in on the merits of a gap year? Isn’t it time for higher education to help students figure out what kind of experience will help them succeed in college and in life?

We recently worked with a group of experts to define the following key characteristics of a transformative gap year: It is purposeful and practical, involving some element of service to others; it takes students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to learn new skills and try on new perspectives; it offers the right balance of autonomy and mentoring to help students build self-confidence and a sense of purpose; it is accessible to students from all economic backgrounds.

The idea of integrating an experiential gap year with college may sound radical, but many colleges already routinely grant academic credit for service learning, internships, study abroad, and other forms of engaged learning. Education researchers have proven that these so-called high-impact practices improve student retention and engagement in college. However, many undergrads don’t have access to these formative experiences until their junior or senior year. Imagine how much we could amplify the positive effects if we offered students a megadose of high-impact practices at the beginning of college instead of at the end.

Reinforcing this point, the Gallup- Purdue Index, a large study of college graduates that seeks to track college outcomes, has demonstrated that how students go to college is much more important than where they go to college. Longitudinal data from the study show conclusively that the strongest predictors of future success are experiences that require initiative and agency — such as finding a mentor, having an internship, and doing a project that takes a semester or more to complete.

College leaders are desperate to cultivate a greater sense of civic responsibility among their students. In these turbulent political times, this is one of the most pressing challenges facing higher education. Similarly, educators recognize that the power skills of the 21st century — resilience, empathy, collaboration, initiative — are difficult to teach in the classroom. To build these skills, students need to be out in the world grappling with complex issues of identity, equity, diversity, and power. A purposeful gap year is a powerful way to build those muscles.And a growing number of colleges understand that a purposeful year off before college is the best way to ensure that more students arrive on campus prepared to declare both a major and a mission. Pioneering institutions are taking steps to repurpose gap years as transformative bridge years. Could this be the freshman-year makeover we’ve been hoping for?

Tufts and Princeton Universities have designed (and financed) their own service-oriented gap-year programs for incoming students, and several other institutions are exploring similar models. Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina, Florida State University, and Dickinson College all offer scholarships to make meaningful gap-year opportunities accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

And there are numerous examples of admissions offices — including at Dartmouth College, Brown University, Rice University, Colorado College, and Middlebury College — that have developed useful gap-year resources for all prospective students. This is a perfect moment for other institutions to replicate and adapt these models to their own contexts.

In the next few weeks, admitted students may turn to you for guidance as they contemplate taking a gap year. Will you send them a form, or will you guide them toward a formative experience?

Abigail Falik is founder and chief executive of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit dedicated to reinventing the gap year. Linda Frey is vice president for strategic partnerships at Global Citizen Year, where she leads the organization’s higher-education partnerships.

I‘ve had clients take a gap year for a variety of reasons.  Lets talk about what you can gain from spending a year, after high school or mid-college.  There are lots of options and many outcomes.  stephanie@accessguidance.com pr 610-212-6679

Hashtags Job Hunters Need To Know

15 Great Twitter Hashtags to Secure Your Dream Job

by Kate Jones | Aug 17, 2017 | Social Media Job Seeking |Career Enlightenment

Hashtags to find an employer:

  1. #hiring: Unsurprisingly, the number one hashtag hiring managers use.
  2. #joblisting: This one is pretty much guaranteed to take you straight to a role specification.
  3. #tweetmyjobs: This has been tagged nearly a million times so it’s worth including in your search.
  4. #ukjobs: If you’re looking for something UK based this will take you straight to the goods. You can also change it up with #*yourcity*jobs to get super specific.
  5. #graduate: If you’re fresh out of university, use this hashtag to find graduate positions.

Hashtags to let employers know you’re looking:

  1. #hireme: Get straight to the point – you’re on the lookout!
  2. #resume: Twice as popular as #CV, this is the one to use if you’re sharing your resume online.
  3. #MBA: If you have an MBA, let potential employers know about your impressive educational background.
  4. #HR: This hashtag makes your post visible to anyone searching in the HR thread.
  5. #careerchange: Great if you’re looking to take your career in a new direction.

Industry specific hashtags:

  1. #salesjobs: This popular hashtag will take you straight to sales jobs listings.
  2. #accounting: If you’re an accountant you’re in luck – listings in this field come up regularly on Twitter.
  3. #SEO: A popular area for recruitment, this one has been tagged more than a million times by job seekers.
  4. #journojobs: For budding journalists, look no further than this hashtag to find your dream position.
  5. #industry: Use this with another tag like #tech or #marketing and you’ll find listings matched to your area of expertise.

If you have a crystal-clear idea of what you’re after, hashtag the specific job you are looking for. This is perfect for those of us in specialist industries such as web development, HR or professional services.

Another option if you’re looking for something a little more niche is this clever tool from Hashtagify which allows you to search for popular hashtags.

Finally, a great way to grab the attention of a potential employer is by using a picture with your tweet – Twitter posts with images receive 150% more engagement.

Conventional methods for finding a job are slowly fading into the background, and the hashtag is now your best friend for securing the position of your dreams. Twitter should be right up there at the top of your list of ways to find your next role.

 

FAFSA for Financial Aid and Grants

The FAFSA goes live online on October 1, giving you a few weeks to submit the form.  If you are applying ED or EA and submit the FAFSA and/or the CSS  with your application you should get an idea of what your aid package will look like with the college’s decision.  Most colleges have set an absolute deadline for FAFSA as February 1 or February 15 to qualify for aid.

1. FAFSA is a form that allows a computer program to set the EFC, Expected Family Contribution.  The number is based on income and certain assets excluding the primary residence.   I’ve seen EFCs ranging from $125 to $100,000.   The The EFC is what the formula assumes is available to pay for college.  Unless there is a change in family financial circumstances, the EFC is non-negotiable.

2.    The EFC amount is sent to the colleges you designate.  The college decides how to fill the gap between the sticker price and your EFC.    Merit aid in the form of grants or scholarships is one way colleges make up the difference.   The amount of this aid is usually bench-marked by scores and grades and is a rough measure of how much the college wants you to choose them.  When a college is very interested in a particular applicant they will find money to make enrolling attractive.

3. “Financial aid” can be mostly loans.  First year students are eligible for $5500 in federally guaranteed loans; second year students  can take up to $6500, third and fourth years, $7500, fifth years can borrow $4000.  This totals $31,000, the exact amount that many colleges say is the average debt load of their graduates.   Unfortunately, parent loans are in addition to this calculation so we don’t know the total of family debt per student which can be significant.

The Documents you will need include for student and parents: social security numbers, student drivers license number, tax returns for 2017, records of untaxed income, bank and investment records.

4. CSS is another document used by some private colleges to determine how much the family can be expected to pay.  The form is downloaded from the College Board website and has a small fee attached to submitting it.  Both FAFSA and CSS are required by a few colleges so be certain you file carefully and observe deadlines.

If you would like a copy of the documents you will need to complete either of these financial aid forms, I’ll be happy so provide a copy.  I can also give you more information on how financial aid packages are calculated and what you might find included in them. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

 

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2017/12/15/11-misconceptions-about-paying-for-colleg

Rules For Making A Budget You Can Stick To

Tips from Alan Carniol:
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that budgeting doesn’t top my list of fun things to do. Nonetheless, it’s critical to create a budget.
Why?
Because money is a scarce resource for many of us, and every dollar we spend on something that isn’t really important to us, is a dollar we won’t have to put toward our dreams.
That’s why I was happy to share a unique software tool I found out about recently.
It’s called You Need a Budget, and it’s based on four simple rules. If you follow these four rules, you’ll transform budgeting from a tedious chore into a simple, straightforward, and uncomplicated process.
You’ll also make your next paycheck go MUCH further.
What are these four simple rules?
Here’s a brief summary:Rule One: Give Every Dollar a Job
Avoid spending money unintentionally, by first asking yourself, “What should this money do before I’m paid again?”Rule Two: Embrace Your True Expenses
It’s important to decide what your money should do for you – now and down the road. Understanding, and embracing, your actual expenses is critical to figuring out your budget.Rule Three: Roll With the Punches
If your budget needs to be changed, then you can just go ahead and change it at any time – without guilt or handwringing.

Rule Four: Age Your Money
Instead of trying to precisely time your bills with your paychecks, work toward spending money today that you earned at least a month earlier.

These four simple rules from You Need A Budget make controlling your finances much more manageable.

Alan Carniol
Founder of Interview Success, Inc.
Copyright © 2018, Interview Success, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bard Offers Own Essay Entrance Exam Option

 

Bard University in the Hudson Valley of New York state has opened a new way to gain admission.  Students may take an online essay exam in which they respond to 3 of  20 prompts in 4 categories.

Each essay should be 2500 words and show the ability to read incisively, think critically and communicate effectively.  Each prompt has links to articles or passages to be used in crafting the response.  According to Bard, this format approaches more closely the teaching and learning taking place at Bard.

Before submitting the Entrance Exam, applicants must sign an Honor Statement verifying that the essays are their own work.

Students writing the essays can enter and leave the exam as needed.  The due date is November 1 with notice of passing the exam sent in December to those who achieve a B+ or better.   A transcript and letter of recommendation are then required before admission is granted.

The traditional application and test requirements are still in place and available to all applicants.

Below is the announcement from Bard.

The Bard Entrance Examination offers a way to apply to Bard that takes the place of existing standardized tests and admission procedures, enabling motivated students to gain admission through an essay test. This process more closely mirrors actual college coursework and provides an invigorating educational experience. Our traditional admission options remain unchanged and available to you.

How It Works
Candidates respond to three of 20 essay questions in four categories: Social Studies; Languages and Literature; Arts; and Science and Mathematics. All the information needed to answer the questions is on the examination platform. The exam is not a test of what you already know; rather, it is an opportunity to demonstrate close reading, critical thinking, and the ability to interpret problems. It is an effort to connect testing to learning.

The suggested length for each of the three essays is 2,500 words. Candidates who score B+ or higher will receive notice that they have passed the exam. Upon our receipt of the student’s transcript and a reference letter from a high school counselor, the student will receive a final admission decision.

Deadline 
The deadline for submitting a completed examination is November 1, with notification of the results by the end of December.

Uncommon Answers to Common Interview Questions

Interview questions are asked to elicit particular information.  No matter what the situation,  you can give answers that are positive and highlight something that you want the interviewer to know about you, your experience, your goals, your strengths, how you can help the company solve a problem.

Read the article from The Must that covers 31 typical questions and customized answers that will make you stand out.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-answer-the-31-most-common-interview-questions?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20180126&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20180126&bsft_eid=dfe63d12-32e1-4683-ab88-8a37ff56408b&bsft_clkid=a38135f8-4040-4411-be91-2ff1657d2c24&bsft_uid=be2b7c7a-3fd7-45c5-8bf4-6e7a7b9064ed&bsft_mid=35b3778a-1237-411e-b666-0091d12dbebd

When you’re ready we’ll craft your own answers to interview questions. 610-212-6679, stephanie@accessguidance.com

Where Resumes and Job Ads Don’t Match

One of the most basic parameters for creating a resume that attracts attention and passes the Applicant Tracking System is  a match between the requirements listed in the job posting and those on a resume.

LiveCareer analyzed several thousand resumes and job openings in 12 career areas, about one quarter of all job categories, to find where applicants claims don’t match the needs of the employers.  They found several gaps that are easily plugged.

Increasingly, soft skills are important to companies hiring.  Soft skills are communication, customer service and so on. Other gaps between desired  qualities and offered skills found by hiring managers are in multitasking, knowledge of retail industry, teamwork, and a positive attitude.

These asks make up one quarter to one half of those listed as necessary but don’t make it onto most resumes.  Job posting typically ask for over 20 items,  resumes claim, on average, 13.  It is easy to put relevant experience with examples into a resume matching the words used by the hiring party.

If you want to get your resume to the person who will decide to interview you, take time to match the requirements to your skills, 1:1.  Have qualifiers ready to prove your ability to meet expectations.  Don’t bother to include things like budgeting, time management or use of Microsoft Word, or anything else not asked for.  The ATS looks for the words the hiring manager tells it to look for and will skip over anything else.

Bring me your job posting and your experience and we’ll craft a resume that passes the ATS and makes it to the hiring manager.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679/