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Parent of a Stressed Senior? Go unCommon!

On this rainy weekend, seniors tell me they’re stressed. After all, they’re about to embark on a major life transition. But what’s a good way to lessen the anxiety? Preparation, of course! The more students learn about what’s expected of them, the more they can ready themselves and manage their time. I really believe it. The college process is full of life’s lessons: understanding directions, communicating thoughtfully and coherently, differentiating versus the competition, assigning priorities, and knowing what to expect.

If you’re in the market for better preparation, you’ve come to the right place. Every week, we’re here with updates and information for you.

A New Take on Ratings

Just when I thought we had heard enough about ratings, the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education (from London, not the NY Times) have released their own deal. Claiming to base their ratings on a survey of 100,000 students, they took into account 15 factors across four categories: student outcomes, resources, student engagement, and diversity. The top three overall: Stanford, MIT, and Columbia. Notably Yale topped the list for outcomes. A huge 95 percent of Yalies were able to pay back federal loans within three years after they graduated; 83 percent graduated with no debt whatsoever.

Rutgers and Maryland Essays: Students May Catch a Break

This year, Rutgers and Maryland have changed their essay prompts to be consistent with the Coalition App, an alternative to the Common App that has a strong social agenda. For some students, this is good news since their Common App Personal Essay may work well for those colleges. (Caution: Some degree of customization is required when repurposing an essay for another college. Admissions officers can tell when a student is “mailing it in.”)

Selective College Programs for the Future: unCommon Meets!

Over the summer, I was the guest of Penn Engineering, whose innovative programs in Computer Engineering, Digital Media Design and Networked and Social Systems Engineering are future-focused in a big way. This week, published my guest post, “How Students Can Position Themselves for Selective College Programs.” In the article, readers learn not only about innovation but also about how professionals other than admission officers evaluate applicants.

Penn is not the only elite college with forward-thinking initiatives; the article also cites the new Cornell Business and Brown’s program in Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations, which stemmed from my undergrad major.

Touring Colleges: Make Use of the Time(s)

Parents of sophomores and juniors may get a charge out of the New York Times way to make college visits fun by combining business and pleasure. It could work, but at a price.

PSAT: We’re Here to Help

It’s October, which means the PSAT is coming. The test doesn’t require outside prep, but all students should go into the test, which is scheduled by their school, knowing what to expect. If your student can’t wait until next week, he or she should try the sample questions on the College Board website.

A Few Words About the SAT

It’s too wordy! That’s what people are saying about the new SAT Math section, which of course contains word problems. An investigation by Reuters cites a frighteningly low percentage of students able to complete both the Math (Calculator and No Calculator) sections. This is a greater-than-ever concern because of the rising numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs). Expect some changes in the future considering the mission of College Board.

Financial Aid FAQs

Thank you,, for issuing FASFA FAQs. If you’re the parent of a senior, it’s “time” to get started!

Scholarship Sources

As we go deeper into college season, don’t “fall” apart! Email me and we’ll set aside time to talk about your college concerns.


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