Crush It (To the HS Class of 2013)

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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.

NO

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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?

No.

Do I need to pay first?

No.

Are you not taking new clients?

No.

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.

Only You

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The most overwhelming, important, consistent factor in determining whether you will be healthy, wealthy and wise is…

I read a very persuasive article this week that listed the value of choosing an elite college.

Very interesting, Ashley…

Well, I also read an article this week.   And it listed the majors that have the highest average income per graduate.

Thank you, Justin.

I didn’t know you could read…

That’s enough, Ashley.

I’ve got a secret for both of you (and, apparently for the authors of those articles).  The most overwhelming, important, consistent factor in determining whether you will be healthy, wealthy and wise is…

Only you.

(And yes, I will provide the links to the Platters, Yaz and Josh Kelley versions for the Grandparents, Parents and Students reading this.)  (And yes, I prefer the Yaz version.)

Only you, and you alone, can go to class, answer questions on tests, complete lab assignments, respond to job postings, interview for positions, make choices on which paths to walk, where to live, who to live with.  (And yes, for the smart alecks who suggest that others can complete lab assignments for you, please see me after this post is done.)

So, please stop treating the choice of major like a Sham-Wow and the choice of college like a protein shake.   When we talk about the return on investment in higher education, what so many fail to realize is that the investment is in…wait for it…

Only You.

Brad, if I gave you a top of the line Louisville Slugger and David Wright a Toys-R-Us kids model bat, who would hit for a higher average?

I don’t know, Mr. Szarek.  I’ve been taking 100 swings each morning in the cage.  And Wright’s really struggling the past week.

100 swings my… Shut up, Caitlin…Swing this, Brad…

Okay, everyone, settle down.

I think even Brad would agree that he is not going to hit as well as David Wright, even with the most expensive bat in the world.  And even the best hitting instructor in the world can only work with the talent already there.

Your major may be your light saber and College may be your Yoda, but they are not the ones who will lift that plane out of the swamp.

Mr. Szarek, what the hell are you talking about?

You can learn from your instructors and you can use your resources wisely.  But, ultimately, you need to find the force inside of you.  Because the only one who is going to fight your battles, earn your money and build your future is

Only you.  LINK TO THE PLATTERS’ SONG.

Only you. LINK TO THE YAZ SONG.

Only you. LINK TO THE JOSH KELLEY SONG.

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.

College Is What Brings Us Together Today

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I stole today’s title from one of my all-time favorite movies.  The Princess Bride – as it does for so many other things in life – offers some wonderful advice for those who will be entering college this Fall. (and if you don’t know the reference, please check out the link at the end of the post!)

That dream within a dream.  Never forget how special your College years can be – part insulating and part liberating and totally unique.

Have fun storming the castle.  Enjoy!

Have you the ring?  Never forget to finish and actually pick up your diploma.  The experience may be the thing, but employers will want to know that you have ‘the wing’.

Man and wife.  Man and wife.  College and student should be partners in this marriage.  Give and take liberally.

As you wish.  Follow the rules, but always maintain your own persona.

You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.  College is not apprenticeship.  Learn at your own pace, experiment in your own way.

Let me ‘splain.  No, there is no time.  Let me sum up.  While you should travel at your own pace, sometimes course demands may force certain concessions.  Manage your time well.  And take good notes.  And sometimes you may need to borrow notes from a guy named Cliff…

Have you been chasing me your whole life only to fail now?  I think that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard.  How marvelous.  Finish what you started.  Whether you are proving someone wrong or proving someone right, finish.  Even if you need a mantra to stay on course…

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father.  Prepare to die.  Persevere.

I wonder if he’s using the same wind we’re using.  Judge yourself only by your own standards; this is your race and your canvas.  Only.

Mostly dead.  Finals week.  But, as in the movie, you will survive.

An Immunity to Iocane Powder.  Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly helps.

When I was your age, television was called books.  Times change.  Be flexible.  Be willing to adapt.

You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.  Respect other opinions and always be willing to look at things from different points of view.

Get some rest.  If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.  You only feel immortal at 18.  You’re not.  Remember to sleep enough, eat more than Ramen Noodles and Doritos and walk, run and play a few times a week.

No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley. 
Be conscious that you are creating your own ‘brand’.   College is usually the first big step in building your resume – be aware of how you are doing that.

You just wiggled your finger.  That’s wonderful.  Don’t forget to treasure your achievements – big and small.

So, I clearly can’t choose the cup in front of me.  Think through – but don’t over think – your choices.

Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work.  But I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it.  I’m swamped. 
Again, College is about time management in ways you haven’t experienced before.  Don’t forget to keep track, prioritize and finish.

I am not left-handed, either.  Ride with the surprises.  And give a few of your own.

Get used to disappointment.  But don’t let it define you.

A kissing book. –  Well, yeah.  It’s College.

Your ears you’ll keep.  And I’ll tell you why.  Always remember to listen.

So, enjoy the next four years.  And make sure you finish in four years!  I mean it.

Anybody want a peanut?

Here’s a clip from the Marriage scene from The Princess Bride.

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.

10 Random Thoughts About the College Search

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1) Dear Parents of HS Juniors…I wish you knew now what you will know a year from now.

2) IMPORTANT: When a College Admissions Representative refers to an SAT score, they are usually referring to your READING + MATH sub-score. NOT your Reading + Math + Writing score.   I’ve seen too many schools and families talking about two different things.  To the detriment of the student.

3) Every action taken in Junior Year (and in the summer) saves two actions in the Senior Year.  M.Szarek, 2012.

4) Adult students need and deserve as much guidance in the college search as traditional students.

5) Too often, students take ALL or NONE of their Direct loan eligibility.  Often, SOME would have been their best choice.

6) What IS the right price for a year’s worth of higher education?

7) If they don’t want you, you don’t want them.

8) Of the 4000 colleges in this country, there are 17.9 ‘perfect’ schools for your son or daughter.   Okay, I made that up.  But, I bet I’m right.

9) See it with your own eyes.  Visit. Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit.  Visit. Visit.

10) If a picture paints a thousand words, how does that fit into the Common Application Essay requirement?

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.

Shenanigans

7 Comments

I call shenanigans.

I just saw an article that listed the ‘average cost of a wedding in New Jersey’.  It was broken out into separate categories such as transportation, catering hall, jewelry, honeymoon, etc. and each category was presented in a range.  When you added them all up, the total ranges were from $50,399 to $78,284.  So, the average is $64,342.

I searched for average undergraduate college costs in New Jersey.  I found the CNN Money site.  It listed individual schools.  So, I selected 6 that I thought represented a bit of a cross-section and weren’t too cheap.  Subjective, I know, but I wasn’t about to do all of the work that I thought CNN Money should have done for me.  Anyway, the average four year costs for Kean, Princeton, Rutgers, Seton Hall, William Paterson University and Monmouth University comes out to $98,250, after aid.

That comes out to $67 a day vs. $64,342 a day.

Let’s compare:

4 years vs. 1 night ( plus honeymoon).

50% completion rate for each.

Approximately 3000 meals vs. 1 big one (and a great buffet on the cruise)

4 years of usually stimulating conversation, research and professional development vs. a nervous speech from a buzzed best man

4 years of interacting with your best friends without parental involvement vs. 1 night of interacting with your best friends engulfed in parental involvement.

4 years of planning, preparing, developing your future vs. 1 night of celebrating your future.

$98,250 vs. $64,342.  Or, in other words…

$67 a day vs. $64,342 a day.

So, why does the $67 a day service have to keep defending its value?  Why is it that the fact that we have now invested more in higher education that amazon.com, Carnival Cruise lines and other credit purchases a scandalous fact?  It should be the other way around, no?

Now – just to be clear – I am comparing an undergraduate collegiate education to a wedding reception, NOT to a marriage.  A marriage is priceless, amazing, wonderful – to be treasured always and forever – and the greatest investment that one can make (is Stefanie still looking over my shoulder?)

We all have choices as to how to spend our money – cars, real estate, food, clothes, entertainment AND learning.  If you don’t think 4 years of higher education is worth it to you, within the limits of your budget, that is your decision.  You have every right to it.

But, when you tank up your SUV during the summer, remember that could have bought a day’s worth of higher education with that, with room and board and access to the fitness center.  Cash or credit.

Note 1: This is what you should expect to pay for a wedding in New Jersey, as per Real Simple magazine: http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/weddings/budget/average-wedding-costs-in-new-jersey-00000000006634/index.html

Note 2: This is where I obtained my data for the area colleges.  CNN Money.

Note 3: This is South Park, calling shenanigans.

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.

The Wrongs of Passage

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Dear Ashley, Brad, Caitlin and Justin:

It has been a joy to work with you and your families as you have traveled along the college search journey.  In a few months, you will start your college career and I just wanted to share a simple thought with you.

You will meet new people and make new friends.  You will join new groups.

Trust your gut.  Respect yourself.

I had a whole long blog post written about the wrongs of hazing, with artfully crafted metaphors, references to recent events and deep thoughts about the value of life.  But, I think the whole topic is too simple to complicate with unnecessary wordage.  Simply…

Trust your gut.  Respect yourself.

If it seems wrong, sounds wrong, looks wrong, smells wrong…it’s quite likely to be wrong.

Trust your gut.  Respect yourself.

Almost 30 years ago, I listened to a woman describe how her son died and what she was doing to prevent others to suffer her son’s fate.  There are too many other mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, girlfriends and boyfriends who could give similar presentations.  I was proud to be part of the fraternity that sponsored that event.

Bonding with peers is a wonderful thing.  Forcing people to consume large amounts of alcohol, physically and mentally abusing peers, locking ‘friends’ in trunks is not.  The two are not connected and anyone who sells you such information is to be avoided.  Period.

But, I know that you already know that.  Just don’t forget it when the time comes.

Trust your gut.  Respect yourself.

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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