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Don’t Stress Over Choosing Which College Offer To Accept

There are no wrong choices, only different ones!

Boston College

Its decision time. Colleges have notified the students they have admitted, or will in the next few days. The wait has seemed endless and everyone wants to have the decision and deposit made.

Here is some ammunition to support your need to make a good choice without second guessing, anxiety or fear of making the wrong pick.

First, know that the college doesn’t educate you, you do that for yourself. Dedicate yourself to learning all that you can and to acquiring the skills employers want regardless of your college or major.

Remember that very few students, even those who know which career they want to prepare for actually graduate in the major they declare on their application. There are so many more options that will grad your attention than you can imagine now. You may end up in a completely different field of study than the one you are passionate about today.

Second, college is about growing and exploring yourself and the world. That you will change over the next four years is inevitable; you would change if you sat at home watching Netflix. You can’t predict who you will meet or how they will affect you. New directions will present themselves for your perusal through the friendships and professors on your campus. This will happen where ever you go. Don’t waste time trying to figure out if one set of people will be “better” than another. Your willingness to engage is what matters.

Third, you chose to apply to this set of colleges for specific reasons. Those reasons are still valid. Visit the schools that chose you over many others to see how you feel about each one. You will adapt to the college you attend and you will change that institution by being part of the campus. Take a deep breath and know that your choice will be the right one. Don’t look back, keep moving forward!

Show Your Love To Colleges: 5 Suggestions

Some colleges don’t care a fig whether you come for a visit and others want to see your face if at all possible. Most colleges track the interest you show in their campus and among those that do, quite a few add or subtract points when evaluating your application.

Its a good idea to perform, DI, Demonstrated Interest, in the colleges where you will, or have already applied. Its never too late to show an admissions office how much you care.

  1. Follow their teams and send kudos for victories or express disappointment at loses.
  2. Follow the college on social media, Yes, this will show all of them which colleges you are interested in so come up with a plan that highlights the top of your list, at least until the early decisions have been rendered.
  3. Use email to stay in touch with the admissions office. Congratulations are in order for the hiring of an influential professor, National Science Foundation grants, a new president, or anything else new and exciting on campus (like breaking ground for a new building). It shows you are paying attention!
  4. Update your application with an email explaining a new award, project, successful research paper, sports success, new job, travel opportunity, etc.
  5. Ask questions! Ask about anything that isn’t on the college website. Does the cafeteria buy locally? Who sponsors intramural tournaments? Can you have your own locker in the rec center? Are there hours during which you can’t practice your tuba in the dorm?
  6. BONUS: GO VISIT! See the campus at least once before submitting your application and again before a decision is rendered if you live within reasonable driving distance.

Applications from students who have no history with the university are called stealth applications. Typically, they are given less weight under the assumption that the student isn’t particularly interested in coming. The admissions office is charged with filling seats and beds and will choose students who are more likely to deposit if admitted.

Go forth and communicate! Its not too early or too late!

Important Information About The SAT and ACT

I’m passing on to you information about taking the SAT and ACT from Jed Applerouth, owner of Applerouth Tutoring, one of the top standardized test prep companies.

Applerouth advises students to wait until Junior year to test unless scores are needed by recruited athletes or for dual enrollment (to take college courses while in high school). Students who are taking Algebra 2 or who aren’t strong readers should wait until spring of their junior year.

Applerouth did a retrospective study on students clients who had already graduated to determine whether there was a significant change in the scores of students who took the ACT or SAT only in their junior year and those who took either test again in their senior year.  The results between the 2 groups was nearly identical.  The conclusion is that waiting until senior year to re-take the test does not create an advantage.

What did make a difference was the number of times a student took either test. The greatest gains were made by students who took the test 3 times.  The third test showed an average gain of almost 50 points on the SAT and 1.4 points on the ACT over the first test.

As you plan when take standardized tests, consider also if you will need to take AP tests or SAT II tests.  Choose times when you won’t be overwhelmed by classroom assignments or when you will need to take multiple tests on the same day.

Notes On Prepping The SAT

Over the last few testing dates there have been issues with the actual test questions and with the curve that left many students confused and fuming over their math scores.  College Board is no longer affiliated with Educational Testing Service which used to design and calibrate the questions on the SAT leading to a wider than expected variation in the difficulty of recent tests.

Easier tests mean that more students do well, raising the number of correct answers needed to score in the upper ranges of the curve.   In early 2017 ,47 or 48 correct answers out of 58 were needed to score 700.  In June 2018 it took 54 out of 58 to reach the same score because testers answered more questions correctly, raising the curve.

Additionally, changes in the test itself are not reflected in the test prep materials from College Board.  A student who uses these materials may feel prepared to score well when in actuality, the questions on the test aren’t reflected by the prep questions.  A better way to prep is to get from College Board Question and Answer Service  a copy of the October, March or May test which is a current and calibrated test similar to the test they will be taking.  I’d suggest the October 2018 test or after March, getting the March test.

Or, Take the ACT which at the moment isn’t experiencing these difficulties.

You have lots to think about.  Lets get to ether to talk about your testing plan.

Do Colleges Really Care About Your ACT or SAT Scores?

This question keeps popping up. Below I’ve copied answers from experts who regularly answer questions on Quora. Here’s what they have to say.

Douglas Duncan Pickard, I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Twice.

[Why?] Because the SAT (and ACT) loosely correlate to freshman year GPA, therefore providing some assurance that the students won’t fail out right away.

Ok, that’s not the real reason. The real reason is because it provides a standardized test that all the prospective students take, so you are comparing “apples to apples” across all the applications. That helps with admissions decisions because GPA alone does not tell you much since education standards vary so much school to school.

Ok, that’s not the real reason either. The REAL real reason is that college rankings consider the average SAT score of admitted students. The higher it is the more it helps the schools rankings. It’s yet another way to keep score.

Gabriel J Ferrer Professor of Computer Science, Hendrix College

In my work as the chair of our college’s Mathematics and Computer Science Department, we have long made use of ACT Math scores as guidance in the placement process for entering students.

Generally speaking, a 28 or higher strongly predicts success in the Calculus sequence. A 24-27 also predicts success, but to a lesser degree.

A score below 24 predicts trouble. Viewed both at an abstract level as well as anecdotally in terms of instructor experience, such a score suggests poor algebra skills.

These predictions are not absolute, of course, and there are a number of students who manage to succeed in spite of low scores. But by and large, we have found ACT scores to be an excellent tool.

The most useful advice I can suggest is for high school students to work hard on mastering their algebra skills, and to some

Depauw University Promises Job Within 6 Months of Graduation.

The Gold Commitment

Liberal Arts graduates in fact do get jobs.  Already, 95% of Depauw students have meaningful jobs or admission to graduate programs within 6 months of commencement.  The Gold Commitment promises that anyone not having a job will be offered one with the university or its affiliates or an additional 6 months of education free.

Here’s the link to the article in Inside Higher Education.

Forget GPAs And Test Scores: Performance Assessment Can Predict Who Gets Accepted and Who Gets Hired 30 #Under30

Can you imagine a world where your GPA and test scores don’t matter in admissions? There’s a seismic shift at leading universities that signals a move in this direction.

This shift is called performance assessments, a method of evaluation that emphasizes demonstrated learning and acquired skills.

Rubrics for evaluating performance are already in place at leading institutions like University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition, performance-based assessments are supported through policy initiatives in 17 states and in more than 100 countries.

These facts are according to a report published by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) in January 2018. President of the LPI, Linda Darling-Hammond, says that the spread of performance assessments is due to the demand for “higher-order thinking and complex communication” skills and the need to prepare students “for the non-routine nature of work.”

Darling-Hammond, who is also a Stanford Professor Emeritus and former team lead campaign advisor to Barack Obama, says that enhancing the role of performance assessments has potential to enhance diversity on campus and beyond. Moving away from traditional measures of student learning, GPA and test scores, will allow a wider swath of applicants to stand out.

Darling-Hammond points out that over 900 higher education institutions now have test-optional admissions. The move away from numbers-focused evaluation shows that test scores neither predict success nor demonstrate knowledge.

This also means that with exceptional experience, such as starting a successful business or overcoming adversity, you may be able to stand out despite having lower scores. Blaire Moody Rideout, University of Michigan Ross’s Director of Admissions, who oversees evaluation and selection, says unequivocally that performance-based materials are far more helpful to evaluating students than other materials because they provide “a unique presentation of self that demonstrates learning.”

In addition to being more helpful in applicant evaluation, infusing performance-based activities into traditional curricula may better prepare industry hires. Darling-Hammond points to The National Academies Foundation (NAF) as one avenue for top companies to find new talent. The NAF uses university-industry partnerships to roll out “industry-specific curricula and work-based learning experience,” preparing the future workforce with requisite skills.

The move toward performance assessments also mirrors the hiring practices of leading companies like design thinking firm IDEO and Google. According to the official company blog, when applying to work at IDEO, “a standard-issue résumé and cover letter won’t turn heads.” Instead, candidates have put together video portraits, custom apps or “in one case, brought turntables connected to a dancing robot for an impromptu DJ set.” This clue on what IDEO appreciates in applicants shows their desire to hire those who can perform.

In a similar vein, Google has moved away from using brain-teaser questions in interviews and toward performance-based evaluation. In Google’s interviews with engineers, candidates complete specific coding tasks and activities like improving an algorithm and coding in their favorite programming language. Like IDEO, Google’s hiring process emphasizes tasks that can predict on-the- job performance.

In addition to supporting the pipeline for traditional hires, the advent of performance assessments across higher education and industry presents a market opportunity for tech entrepreneurs. Darling-Hammond notes that new startups are popping up in response to the demand for performance assessments, developing platforms to “capture the complexities” of applicant work.

Altogether, performance-based evaluation provides a new opportunity for applicants to stand out when applying for universities and to jobs. In addition, higher education institutions and companies that use performance assessments are likely to have a more accurate measure of a person’s capabilities. There is also a market opportunity for young entrepreneurs to capitalize on the proliferation of performance assessments by providing new media platforms that enable applicants to demonstrate their history of impact and learning.


Penn Admission Stats for Class of 2022

In case you missed the tweet, here’s the link to the article.  You will be as amazed as your counselors are!


Lets find other amazing choices for the class of 2021!, 610-212-6679

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.

Find Your Way Out of the Waitlist Wilderness

There are still some students waiting for notification that they have moved from pending to admitted student at their favorite college.  If this describes you, here are a few things you can do to maximize your chances.

  1. Update your admissions officer on what you have been doing since you applied
  2. Send a letter or email stating why you want to attend this college
  3. Read the mission statement, president’s letter or history of the college that you will find on the website; include in your letter (2 above) how you exemplify the values and objectives of the college
  4. Visit or visit again
  5. If you have additional recommendations that were sent to this college, send them now

You may not be able to sway the admissions committee at Dream U but you can become a star at We’re Happy You’re Coming Here U.

You’ll do well where ever you go in August!


A CV? Isn’t That A Resume?

Perhaps you’ve see a job posting where the employer asked for a CV and are wondering what the document is.  Is it a resume or something else?

A resume lays out your achievements and experience as it relates to a specific job description and is tailored to the job’s requirements.  A resume is a targeted summary limited to one page or two at most.

In some parts of the world and in some industries a CV, Curriculum Vitae, is commonly required when applying of a job.  In the US applicants for academic jobs and fellowships are expected to provide a CV.

A CV is the record of your teaching positions, symposium addresses, research and publications.  Because it isn’t targeted toward a particular position, it is necessary to add all accomplishments as they occur.  There isn’t a predetermined or recommended length for a CV; take as many pages as are necessary to lay out the entire list.

Online you can find templates and formats for a resume.  To find one for a CV, google one of  your professors.  I’ve seen some that are 40-50 pages.

While you aren’t likely to need a CV anytime soon, it is a good idea to keep a list of training, skills you pick up, additional responsibilities you’ve taken on, and stats to quantify all of the above.

If you need to know what to record and how to keep the numbers, lets talk. or 610-212-6679 for an appointment.