Tempus Fuggedaboutit – Redux

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(a follow up to a blog post I wrote in 2012)

This year’s incoming college freshmen will retire in 2071.

That, of course, assumes they don’t work past age 70.

So, when an article comes out suggesting that these are the best majors in terms of employment and it bases its findings on data from 2019 (or earlier) – well – that’s pretty funny.

I chose a major in 1982.  Communications.  I wanted to be the next Marv Albert.

That was almost 40 years ago.  I chose the field of radio and TV in a world that had 10 channels, terrestrial radio, no YouTube and – if there wasn’t such a thing as facial hair –  we wouldn’t have been able to edit sound.  (**If you don’t get the reference, there’s an explanation at the end of this blog post)

But I knew that I liked media.  I liked communicating.

I did it ‘old school’ – 4 years, 1 major, 1 school.  I had a B+ average and graduated with Latin words attached.

I then started a career path that veered from door-to-door environmental canvasser on Long Island to Leukemia Society Program Coordinator (bunny hops and bowl-a-thons) to Social Services Examiner to a phone call on a pay phone at the bar that I lived above on Jericho Turnpike because the phone in my apartment was busted.  Yes, the phone call that changed everything.  I was invited to interview for the position of Admission Counselor at Wagner College.

12.5 plus room and board. That’s annual. 12,500. Dollars.

And I found my calling.  But – along the way – I’ve made turns into financial aid and community relations and conference and events. I’ve made a twist into independent counseling and a detour to New Jersey.  And I’ve built a career that had both nothing to do with Communications and everything to do with Communications.

It had nothing to do with Moviolas or tripods or splicing tape or “How Real is Real?” and other communications theory.

But, it had everything to do with Communications because I knew how to write and speak and interact and work with a team.  And I knew deadlines and time management and reading from a script.  And I knew about College.

It’s easy to sit here and type (word process?) these words and recommend what you should do with your time and money.

Your role in this dialogue is much harder.  I understand the trepidation and concern.  Will Brad get a job?  Will Ashley be successful?  Is this the right decision for Caitlin?  Why on earth did Justin pick that career?

That’s why I picked Communications.  Didn’t think there would be any money in English…

But life has its own design.  And the best tools a college can give you are the ability to think, write, speak, play well with others and lead a team.  The two best tools of all may be the ability to adapt.  And the understanding that you will probably have to.

How you use those tools is up to you, regardless of the institution that you choose to attend.


Crush It (To the HS Class of 2013)


Dear HS Class of 2013:

You are not defined by your major, your SAT, your ACT, nor what schools accepted or did not accept you.

You are not defined by what school you chose.

You are defined by what you do when you get to college. And beyond.

Crush it.

-Michael, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, CCR

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

May Day

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And, so it is written…

Postsecondary members agree that they will:

“permit first-year candidates for fall admission to choose among offers of admission, financial aid and scholarships until May 1 and will state this deadline explicitly in their offers of admission.” (from the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling)

This Wednesday is the magical, mystical deposit deadline for students to choose their college.  And, so let me offer these last-minute suggestions to those entangled in this mystical, magical, @#$^@%^# time.

1) Run Through the Base.  You’ve gone through 2-3 years of planning, arguing, traveling, debating, analyzing, writing, submitting, asking, fretting, thinking, preparing.  Finish strong.  Submit your deposit on time.  For the right amount of $.  With the proper form.  To the proper college.  For the proper reasons.  Which leads us to bullet #2…

2) Don’t Forget Your Priorities.  Because you’ve gone through multiple years of planning, arguing, traveling, etc., you may need to step back and say, “What the heck were we doing this for, again?”  What was important to you, in the first place?  Is it still important?  Does that value fit the choice you are making?

3) Value vs. Cost.  What school will provide you with the best opportunity to graduate, grow, learn and move on to a meaningful, valuable life after college?  That may not be the school with the biggest financial aid package.  Be careful to not weigh the latter too heavily, or the former too lightly.  It is the former that will bring you back the greatest ROI – in terms of personal fulfillment AND financial satisfaction.

4) Hedging Your Bets #1 – The Double Deposit.  As one of those ‘postsecondary’ guys they talked about at the top, I detest double deposits.  The College Board lists the practice as ‘unethical’.  Page 1 of a Google Search on the topic will leave references to ‘wrong’, ‘risky’, ‘dirty’, ‘NO’.  But it has been an increasingly popular way for students and families to hedge their bets on May 1.  Remember that, besides considered a horrible, terrible thing by most in my profession (and every single student on a wait list) they are also non-refundable and are completely unnecessary if bullet point #5 is in play.

5) Hedging Your Bets #2 – The Extension.  Many colleges will offer an extension of the May 1 deadline.  But make sure.  Call and/or email your admission counselor.  State a reason for the indecision.  If it something they can address, let them know.  There is nothing more greatly appreciated on the admission side than communication.  They want to know if you are still interested.  Tell them.  Please note that there are many schools, also, that do not grant extensions or do so on a limited basis.  The policy on extensions is closely aligned with the selectivity of the institutions in question.

6) The Refund.  If you have changed your mind, do avoid the ‘accidental’ double deposit and officially withdraw your initial deposit by May 1.  First, because it’s the right thing to do.  Second, because most deposits are refundable before May 1 and not refundable after May 1.

7) There are still 3 more bases to run.  Never forget that getting in to college is FAR less important than staying in and successfully completing college.  This should be only the beginning of an amazing journey…

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

Yes, You May Borrow My Pen 2

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With the NACAC Fair coming back to New Jersey (April 24-25; NEW LOCATION: Meadowlands Exposition Center), it seemed a good time to update this blog about college fairs, college admissions folks and you.  The link for next week’s fair is towards the end of the article.)

Over the past few months, we’ve talked about several pieces of the college admission puzzle – admission interviews, SATs and personal statements being just three.

But the next topic is near and dear to my heart and is rarely discussed in online fora.  (Fora = plural of forum; always trying to help you with the SATs here)

I think the general consensus is that it isn’t that important.

I think the general consensus is – or, at least, can be – very wrong.

Meeting an admissions counselor or alumni volunteer at a College Fair can be an invaluable experience in your college search.  It can rewarding and it can be as “real” as any part of your college admission journey.

Admission counselors travel from hotel to hotel in their Ford Tauruses (Tauri?), living off fast food, PTA dinners and USA Today.  They do this because they love meeting people and love the concept of a College Education and are usually genuine about their enthusiasm about the College they are promoting.

They’ve generally already spent a full day working for the College and are excited about this opportunity to meet the students they have been sending all of that mail and all of those emails to. (To which they have been sending all of those….anyway…)

They want to talk to you. They don’t want you to just walk by and take a brochure (the same one they’ve mailed to you twice already).  They don’t want you to just “fill out a card” since you could have done that online without stopping at the table.  They want to talk to you, help you, guide you, make a friend, establish or strengthen a contact and – to put it in layman’s terms – possibly “make a sale”.

They probably will explain how their school can meet your needs, but they will also generally be fairly honest about where the fit may NOT be, how your background fits into the admission profile of the College and (if there is no match to be made) other schools that they are aware of that might fit your needs and wants.

So, go right up to that table. Talk to them about your academic, athletic and other relevant interests.  Have a conversation.  Ask them about the admission process and campus visitation policies.  You won’t regret it.  If they have a name tag, address them by their first name – it’ll make their day. You’ll find that you – to use a layman’s phrase – might just make a sale, as well.

Nice post, Mike, but what the heck is that title all about?

Oh, yeah, almost forgot – sorry.  I was at a College Fair once when I was working for a school that began with “College of”.  It was not in an area where we drew many (read “any”) students.  And, like most college fairs, the colleges were arranged alphabetically.  I found myself between Colgate and Cornell.  I expected a looooong night.  A funny thing happened.  I ended up in a few wonderful conversations with families waiting to talk to the representatives from those two better known institutions. And most of those conversations started with a glance from the student and a motion to the set of pens on my table.  And that’s when I got to utter the title phrase above, so that they could fill out the inquiry card for the colleges to either side of me.

But, ultimately, I gained a wonderful student that decided to come to my school (and did very well, by the way) and I enjoyed some great conversations.  All because I brought some extra pens.

So, go to your high school’s college fair, or a regional or national fair in your area.  For my New Jersey contingent, don’t miss the National Fair on April 24-25, at the (new location) Meadowlands Exposition Center.  Make a few friends, learn about a few schools and maybe even make an impression that makes the difference in terms of admission.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.

Hurricane Sandy College Closures in New Jersey


FINAL UPDATE (SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10): It appears that all colleges in New Jersey, with the exception of Ocean County College and College of Saint Elizabeth have reopened since Hurricane Sandy.  Both OCC and CSE fully intend to resume classes this Monday morning. 


Below is – to the best of my knowledge – each school’s status re: Hurricane Sandy

  • REOPENED ON MONDAY, 11/5 – 26

ALWAYS consult your host institution as an official authority.  I certainly am not.

  • ATLANTIC CAPE COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Atlantic City Classes resume on Monday, 11/5. Mays Landing and Cape May County opened 11/1
  • BERGEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Classes Resume on Monday, 11/5.  All Campuses
  • BERKELEY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • BLOOMFIELD COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5
  • BROOKDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Lincroft, Freehold, and Hazlet campuses will reopen on Tues, 11/6.  All others still without power.
  • BURLINGTON COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resumed Thursday, 11/1.
  • CALDWELL COLLEGE – Classes resume Tuesday, November 6.
  • CAMDEN COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resumed Wed, 10/31.
  • CENTENARY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • COLLEGE OF SAINT ELIZABETH – Reopening on Monday, Nov. 12.
  • COUNTY COLLEGE OF MORRIS – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • CUMBERLAND COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes Resumed Wed, 10/31.
  • DEVRY UNIVERSITY – Cherry Hill, Paramus and North Brunswick are all open for classes on Monday, 11/5.
  • DREW UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • ESSEX COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY – Metropolitan Campus Reopens on Tuesday, November 6.  Florham campus STILL CLOSED
  • FELICIAN COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • GEORGIAN COURT UNIVERSITY – CLOSED Tuesday, 11/6.  Plan to resume classes on Wednesday, 11/7.
  • GLOUCESTER COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resumed Thursday, 11/1.
  • HUDSON COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – CLOSED Tues-Wed.  Classes resume on Thursday, 11/8.
  • KEAN UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Tuesday, 11/6.
  • MERCER COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Resumed classes on Friday, 11/2.
  • MIDDLESEX COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY – CLOSED TUESDAY.  Classes resume Wed, 11/7.
  • MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • NEW JERSEY CITY UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • OCEAN COUNTY COLLEGE – Will reopen on Monday, 11/12.
  • PASSAIC COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • PRINCETON UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • RAMAPO COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • RARITAN VALLEY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – CLOSED TUES-WED. Most likely date for reopening is Thurs, 11/8. Expecting to regain power on Wed, 11/7.
  • RIDER UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, Nov. 5.
  • ROWAN UNIVERSITY – Classes Resumed on Thursday, Nov. 1
  • RUTGERS CAMDEN – Classes Resumed on Thursday, Nov. 1.
  • RUTGERS NEW BRUNSWICK – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • RUTGERS NEWARK – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • SAINT PETER’S UNIVERSITY – CLOSED TUES. Jersey City campus classes resume on Wed, 11/7.  Englewood Cliffs campus to be determined.
  • SALEM COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Classes resumed on Wed. 10/31.
  • SETON HALL UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • SOMERSET CHRISTIAN COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • STEVENS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY – CLOSED TUES.  Classes to resume on Wed, 11/7.
  • SUSSEX COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • THE RICHARD STOCKTON COLLEGE OF NJ – Classes resumed on Thursday, 11/1.
  • THOMAS EDISON STATE COLLEGE – Looks like they started on Thurs, 11/1.  No specific website notice found.
  • UNION COUNTY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5, BUT Cranford classes will be in Elizabeth.
  • UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY – Stratford and RWJ resumed as of 11/1.  Newark, New Brunswick and Piscataway reopen on Monday, 11/5.  Scotch Plains remains CLOSED.
  • WARREN COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.
  • WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY – Classes resume on Monday, 11/5.

Again, ALWAYS consult your host institution as an official authority.  I certainly am not.  And – hey – be careful out there!



Mr. Szarek, Ashley has a friend who is also entering her senior year.    Would you mind speaking to her Mom about colleges?

Not at all.  Hello, Ashley’s friend’s Mom!

Hello, Mr. Szarek.  My basic question is this.  My daughter has a 2.7 GPA and a 1960 on the SAT.  Can you tell me what schools would be best for her?


Do I need to pay first?


Are you not taking new clients?


Are you just an obnoxious jerk?

Don’t think so.  I think I’m generally pretty nice.  And that’s why I won’t tell you what schools would be best for your daughter.  Because I don’t know.

I thought – well, Ashley’s Mom said that you know about college admissions and such things.  Was she mistaken?

I hope not.  I’ve spent 25 years working in jobs related to college admissions.  I hope I’ve learned something over the years.  But a student’s SAT and GPA do not tell me what school she should go to.  Or more accurately – they don’t tell your daughter where she should go.

Okay, I’m listening…

What interests your daughter? What does she want to be when she grows up? Does she prefer fresh air or Times Square? What makes her tick?  Those are all more important than her GPA and SAT.

With three important caveats.

Mom, I hate those little fish egg things!

First, GPA and SAT play a big role in determining whether your daughter will be accepted to a particular college.  Unless the school is SAT optional, in which case the GPA will play a big role in whether your daughter will get accepted.  But, please remember that two-thirds of all admission letters are acceptance letters.  A student with a 2.7 GPA and a 1960 SAT meets the admission criteria of literally thousands of schools.  Second – and related – GPA and SAT will influence price tag via scholarship and – to a lesser extent – citizenship and leadership grants.  And, finally, students tend to succeed in college when they are interacting with intellectual peers.  GPA and SAT are not perfect indicators by any stretch of the imagination, but they do provide some guidance as to ‘fit’.  Some guidance.  Some.

What about safety, target and reach schools?

Your daughter should apply to schools that will make her healthy, wealthy and wise.  And happy.  She should make sure that there are, at least, a couple that would be considered likely to admit her.  But here’s the key point I wanted to make when I started writing this blog post…

What blog post, Mom?  What’s he talking about?

Your daughter’s college choices should be driven by her needs, NOT the needs of the colleges.  They are here to serve her, NOT the other way around.  She should be realistic, and be aware of admission criteria.  But admission criteria should not drive her choices.  Your daughter’s needs, goals, strengths, weaknesses and desires should drive her choices.

Her desire is the kid two houses down from us…

Shut up, Mom.  But, you know, I think he’s going to a really good school.  It’s on my list…

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

Made In America


There is a product that is as American made as any.

The raw product is American.

The hands that mold into a finished product are American.

The sales force that promotes it is American. Even the telemarketing personnel are American.

The product is made on-site, in America.

People from other countries come here to the buy the product.

It is hand-crafted, made to order, with each individual unit a limited edition.

It is American Higher Education.  “Quality craftsmanship since 1636.”

Not cheap.  In any sense of the word.  Including price tag.

Are there ways to cut costs? Is there some level of mismanagement with some suppliers?

Sure, but I would venture a guess that it’s no worse, and – in fact – may be less than in most industries.

In other words, higher education is expensive.  It costs tens of thousands of dollars to provide one year of education – whether you pay for it, Uncle Sam, Uncle Christie or Capitol One pays for it.  Even if the College gives you a 40% discount off the sticker price (which is the norm, by the way).

Yeah, but some of that money is going to a new dorm or laptops for each student or a new fitness center that looks like Curves and Golds Gym all rolled into one.  And I heard one college is even giving out SmartPhones to each freshman. 

Absolutely.  And they could stop doing that and it would certainly lower tuition and room and board.  But – if they don’t build it, will we still come?  I’d hate to work for the college that hedges that bet.  The consumer demanded and the supplier responded.

Better management in higher education might also save a few dollars.  Figure a $50,000 school might become a $48.000 school.  But, it’s not the problem nor is it a magic solution.  It still would be $48000.

Reduce costs?  Sure, eliminate a career services staff member or an athletic team.  Don’t build that new dining facility.  Cut back on landscaping.  Let average class size grow from 15 to 30.  Let G.A.’s and adjuncts replace full-time faculty.

Are there salaries that are out-of-control?  Sure, a few athletic coaches and a few Presidents.  Not many others.  However, I think a comparison to areas of commerce would be quite revealing.  There aren’t too many Jamie Dimons in higher education.

But I can’t afford $48,000.  It’s not fair.

It’s not always fair.  Trust me, as a Met, Jet and Net fan, I’ve used that phrase quite a bit in my lifetime.

Thanks to 40% tuition discounts and Uncle Sam and Uncle Christie, most “$48,000” schools will actually be much less.  But even if the cost of College A is out of your reach, there’s still College B that will offer a do-able package and State U., which will offer a subsidized tuition rate and Community College, which will offer an even more subsidized rate.

All for a product that is American made, offered in limited editions and respected worldwide.

Folks like me can help you through the process, offer advice and maybe even save you a dime or two.  But there’s no magic here.

There. Is. No. Magic. Here.  Except in the finished product, when you become your very own collector’s edition.

Not every college and not every financial aid package is affordable.  Some roads may be closed.  Some roads may have a toll that is beyond your means (Kinda like the Verrazano Bridge).  But many – far more than you realize – will be welcoming, passable and affordable.  And worth traveling.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at info@cc4therestofus.com, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CCRMichael?feature=mhee.

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