Pendaflex City

3 Comments

“Take me down to the Pendaflex City, where transfers are green and red goes to committee.  Oh, won’t you please take a loan…”

College Reps.   Admissions Counselors.  Assistant Directors.  Senior Assistant Directors.

These are those smiling, friendly people with travel bags, rental cars and viewbooks who travel the globe (or at least your county) to provide you with relevant information to help you make an informed college decision.  Or at least provide you with some glossy literature and a free pen.

There is another side to these folks, however.  When the rental cars have been returned, they transform.  As the days get shorter in late Fall, they begin to review the lives of millions of teenagers, captured in Pendaflex cages or -ever more increasingly – scanned into electronic holding cells.  They study your grades, your courses, your test scores and your other application materials.  They try to determine:

Will Brad succeed at my college?  Heck if I know, Mr. Szarek.

What happened to Justin in sophomore year?  Uh, yeah, well, about that…

Was Caitlin actually involved in those 15 clubs or just a ‘joiner’?  Don’t they understand words like Captain and Executive Correspondence Secretary?

Who is Ashley?  Hey, if they find out, I hope they let me know.  ‘Cause I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I offer you, in true blog fashion, these 6 tips for you to make sure that these cheerful gatekeepers remain cheerful – and open the gates – when they review your application for admission.

1) Treat them as a person. – These are human beings who like connecting with people.  It’s why they got into College Admissions in the first place.  Connect with them.  Take their business cards.  Remember their name.  Say hi when they return for your high school’s College Night or you see them again at an Open House.  Send a “thank you” email after your campus visit.  It’s a lot harder to deny admission to someone you know – and someone you like.  By the same token, it’s also a lot easier to recommend a leadership grant or scholarship to such an individual.

2) Submit materials in a timely manner. – Admissions folks are usually facing tight schedules and juggling different facets of their job.  Don’t make them wonder about your interest.  And don’t make them wait for your file to be complete after they’ve reviewed hundreds of other files – and after they’ve already turned their attention to coordinating a Campus Visit Day or a Spring Travel schedule.  Part and parcel with this is…

3) Play by their rules. – It makes their life easier.  It shows respect for them and their institution.  It means they don’t have to fight for an exception, for you, with their Dean.  It makes it easier for them to like you.

4) But do so with enthusiasm and creativity. – If all you do is follow their rules, but show no evidence of what makes you tick, what makes you exciting, what will make you a valuable member of their college community, then you’ve not done your job as an admission candidate.  Make your essay and interviews interesting (in a constructive way, not a goofy “this might end up on reality TV” kinda way).   Show spirit, show passion.  Show that you matter.

5) Tell a coherent story. – As you show passion and meet deadlines and follow their rules, and submit essays and supplemental documents, and letters of recommendation, and come in for an interview – make sure it all makes sense.  These documents, in addition to the transcript and test scores should all be pieces to a puzzle.  Take that analogy to heart.  Puzzle pieces FIT together.  If you did struggle sophomore year, your explanation in your essay should match your explanation in the interview.  If you have a passion for a certain field of study, you can’t – 45 minutes into the interview – then start talking about another field with equal passion.  Be real, be honest, be consistent.

6) Meet them, greet them, know them. – In many ways, this is echoing suggestion #1.  But, I place it here to emphasize that the best situation for you, as an admission candidate, is to utilize the Admission Counselor’s unique role as liaison.  No one you meet has a better awareness of both sides of the coin – the college and the candidate.

Meet them, greet them, know them.  The hands you shake will soon be holding a folder with your name on it or clicking on the electronic version thereof…

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.

Happy Anniversary

Leave a comment

THANK YOU! 

As we approach the 1 year anniversary of College Counseling for the Rest of Us (October 20, for those of you keeping score at home), I thought it time to reflect and to celebrate.

Like the Statue of Liberty – just shorter, male and less metallic – I wanted the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning for additional financial aid to have access to information and guidance.

I wanted to bring college advice to the adults, the learning disabled, the 1st generation, the middle class, the working class, the huddled masses who didn’t have a 2400 SAT and 7-figure 529 plan.

I wanted people to know that community colleges are fine, affordable establishments.

I wanted people to know that college admission information is not top-secret; it’s just sometimes hard to find, contradictory and/or overwhelming.

I wanted people to know that not all college classes are outdoors.  During the month of October.  With red and golden leaves.  With 1.5 smiling females and 1.5 smiling males, all of various demographics.

I hope – in my own small way (with the help of some wonderful colleagues), I have been able to do that through these blogs, my counseling, my workshops and my social media efforts.

And, although I know there are still “miles to go before we sleep”, I wish to offer a toast to:

  • ALL of the counselors, colleagues, clients and friends (well you’re ALL friends) who have actually read my blog and offered wonderful support, guidance and criticism.  I’m forgetting a bunch of people, but here are just some of those names  – John (both of you), Ed, Megan, Barbara, Bridget, Hilary, Michelle, Robin, Steve, Carol, Barb, J B, Mike, Susie, Karen, Kimberly, Katie, Kara and (insert your name here because Michael forgot).  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!
  • All of the families and students who have trusted me to guide them and provided me with so much joy.
  • The folks at so many colleges that have supported Cafe College and the (currently on hiatus) College of the Day and this entire project.  Particularly, though, I wish to thank the folks at Truman State University and Delta State University for blowing the roof off my website views on the days they were each College of the Day and Felician College, Lasell College and St. Anselm College for volunteering to launch the Cafe College concept this month!  THANK YOU!
  • Everyone who has viewed my website (7300+), the YouTube channel (over 1200) and the Facebook page (over 250).   And to this blog’s 26 subscribers.  Thank you!  Your support and your input are both invaluable.
  • My sons, who are 16, took their PSATs for the 2nd time this weekend and provide me with ‘insider’ information as a parent to compliment my ‘insider’ information as an admission and financial aid professional.  I’m not just the President; I’m also a client.
  • My daughter, who – at 12 – has become my “go-to” camera person for my YouTube videos on the CC4theRestofUs channel.
  • My wife, who has been so patient and supportive as this project has gotten off the ground.  I love you and thank you, Stefanie!
  • Everyone else I should be thanking, including my future clients and my eventual book publisher who will guide me through that initial blockbuster best-seller about the adventures of Ashley, Brad, Caitlin and Justin as they try to find the right college that “fits” their needs and goals.

I’m looking forward to year 2 and beyond.  May the “rest of us” always matter in higher education.

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.

How Many Schools Must One Student Apply?

2 Comments

The answer, my friend, is that it depends.  The answer is that it depends.

Yes, I know I am, once again, playing the “it depends/it’s complicated/shades of gray” card.  But, once again, I don’t like the question.  Let me approach it this way:

What are we trying to accomplish here?

Caitlin: Find the school that “fits” – the college that brings me to where I need to go and provides me with the best opportunity to achieve my goals and to grow as a person.

Brad: Grow?  You mean, like the Freshman 15?

No, Brad, not like the Freshman 15.  Caitlin, it sounds like someone has been reading my blog posts.  Let your Mom know that she will be getting a price break on the retainer service.

So, if we’re trying to find the schools that best fits your needs and goals and best fits you, how many schools should you apply to?

Justin: When you ask it that way, I’m tempted to say “one” – the one that meets that criteria.

And I understand why.  But, I’ll give you two reasons why one is probably not the right answer.  First, there are multiple ‘fit’ schools for almost every student.  And you generally apply in the Fall, but decide in the Spring.  So, you hate to eliminate College X too early, when it is a comparable choice to University Y.  Let the process play out naturally.

The second reason is money.  For many, the financial aid package will affect the final decision.  I caution folks not to have the financial aid package play more of a role than it should, but I fully understand that it can be a very important part of the final decision.  Don’t rule out a school before you have that information in front of you.  By not applying, you don’t know what aid you could receive at College X.

So, how many schools should a student apply to?  I’ve seen recommendations range from “4 to 8” to “6 or 7” to “7 to 12” to “25 or 6 to 4″ to ‘but some apply to as many as 20 – or more – and there’s nothing wrong with that.”  I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with any of these, but here are some points I would suggest you consider:

  • Visits and other Research – This is a big part of why you visit schools, go to their website, check out College Confidential, Zinch, Cappex, Naviance, FastWeb, etc. etc. etc.  Do the research, find the schools that ‘fit’ and eliminate the schools that don’t.  That way, you have a less of an issue with the next item…
  • Application Fee Costs – Generally, College Application Fees are in the $50-$75 range.  So, narrowing the list down to an appropriate size can save hundreds – and, in some cases, $1000 or more – in application fees.
  • Fit, Not Reach vs. Reach/Match/Safety –  As you may know, one of my pet peeves is the reach/match/safety outline for picking colleges.  It frames the question in terms of the college’s policies, not your aspirations, preferences and needs.  In other words, it frames the question in terms of them, and not in terms of YOU.  To me, it’s all about “Fit, Not Reach”.  Of course, it does matter that you do get accepted to some of your choices, or the whole system kinda breaks down.  But, I think we’ve created a standard policy – with reach/match/safety – that is cart before the horse, tail wagging the dog, fill in your own analogy here.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the right amount of schools to apply to is a personal matter.  Actual results may vary.  And, if you find yourself on the Common App site or Naviance for more than 4 hours, consult a guidance counselor….

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.

Newer Entries