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Why is December 1st Such a Significant Day in College Admissions?

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December 1st is an important day in college admissions because, in exactly five months, every senior must place a deposit at the school that they will attend in the fall. The National Deposit Deadline is May 1st, so seniors are starting to make a turn toward the home stretch.

One of the best people writing regularly about college admissions is the Director of Admissions at Georgia Tech, Rick Clark. It doesn’t matter if you are considering applying to Georgia Tech or not. His blog can help any family that is on the college admissions journey. His latest piece, Preparation Day, speaks to the December 1st phenomena. It’s a real thing!

We are entering a new stage as the early decision schools start to send their acceptances, denials, and deferrals in December. There is an accelerated level of anxiety in many schools as these decisions are released. I wrote the piece below for the very first group of seniors that I worked with, and it still rings true. I hope it is helpful as we begin the final leg of the college admissions process. Enjoy!

As early application results come in, I have noticed a heightened state among college-bound seniors as they wait for results from the schools where they applied. I searched my archives of articles to find something that might help students take stock and maintain perspective, but none of the articles said what I wanted to say, so here are my two cents. Keep your eye on your own ball. Do not pay attention to the admissions chatter. Think about what you are looking for in a college and what you want your life to look like after the 45 months that you will spend at college. Consider your strengths and weaknesses as a student as well as how you learn best. Continue to explore areas of study and career paths that interest you. Make a list of things you would like to accomplish in college like studying abroad or completing an internship. Explore the websites of ALL the colleges where you are applying and see if anything jumps out at you. College admission is just the beginning. The kids that “win” at the college game (if there even is such a thing) are the students that arrive on campus with a sense of purpose, use their four years well and graduate on time. In precisely five months you will be submitting a deposit to the lucky school that gets to have you for the next four years. Use this time to ponder what you want in a college so that when your choices are on the table, you have a deeper sense of what you want in a school.

The First Yes!




It happened yesterday! I got my first text of the season from a student that received an amazing letter of acceptance and it never gets old. There is something so exciting about being admitted, especially heading into the Thanksgiving break. This student has a yes from a school they love, with a highly ranked program in their major. Congratulations to this client and all the other future Spartans!

Why Snow Makes Me Think of Colleges



Today was the first snowfall of the season and it got me really excited for winter. Two of my favorite college students sent me pictures from their snowy campuses. I am working with a student this fall that wants to prioritize access to skiing. I have been meaning to repost the piece that I wrote last year about schools that are close to the slopes. The snow that fell today was just the inspiration that I needed. My piece is below. Feel free to chime in if you think there is a school I should add!

“The skiing cosmos is difficult to explain to anyone not immersed in it. The act of skiing differs from traditional sports in that…it requires specific orographic and meteorological phenomena. Because skiers depend on planetary forces much larger than themselves —and, like surfers, must work in harmony with them—a kind of otherworldly euphoria overtakes them when they do it well.”

—Porter Fox, DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow

Last spring I shared a piece from Time/Money on my Facebook page about colleges for students that like to ski. I posted it half-heartedly; the winter ski season and the college admissions season were both waning and it seemed like a good fit. I recently opened up the article and read through the schools that they listed and thought to myself, “Woah, this list will not do”.

I often have clients looking for colleges and access to skiing is on the top of their priority list. They are not necessarily looking for a ski team, but rather the ability to get to a good hill in less than an hour. The words that I read in David A. Rothman’s book, Living the Life: Tales from America’s Mountains and Ski Towns come to mind when I think about this type of student. Rothman writes about getting a season pass at a new mountain. He says, “At that moment…I could feel my little world tilt on it’s axis. I hadn’t bought a season’s pass at a new ski area in fifteen years…if you’re a skier—really a skier—shifting your allegiance from one hill to another is a big deal”.

And there are those words, really a skier, that made me decide I had to make a list of schools for the type of client that is really a skier. I don’t put myself in that category but I know plenty of people who qualify. Lots of college kids like to ski and can make do at a school that offers the opportunity to ski on the weekends or occasionally skip class and go during the week. The type of skier that I am talking about is the kid that is sitting in class on a Tuesday morning watching snow pile up and wants to be on the slopes in an hour or less. And this kid is committed to 50+ days a year, so this ski hill needs to keep them engaged. I am talking about someone who opens their season on their local WROD (White Ribbon of Death for the uninitiated) and ends at Killington in May (or any other fine ski center that stays open until Memorial Day), a skier that makes getting on the hill a priority above all else (besides academics, of course). If there is a mid-week dump, this kid wants to get to the hill ASAP; they are not waiting for the weekend. If you are trying to figure out where you can blend your ski passion and your education, this post is for you.

When clients come to me and say they want skiing access, there are fewer choices than you might think. My criteria are as follows: more than 1,000 students, an average SAT score of over 1,000 and less than one hour to a ski slope that will keep them engaged for the winter (I realize this is subjective) Here are a few that will work in no particular order. I put the college and the ski area that is within an hour. My list is just a start. I welcome your insights and comments on schools that I might have overlooked. Enjoy!

  1. The Vermont Schools, University of Vermont, St. Michaels College, Middlebury College, Champlain College, Norwich University. These schools are within 60 minutes of Sugarbush, Stowe, Smuggler’s Notch, Mad River Glen and Middlebury has it’s very own hill, called the Ski Bowl.

  2. The Denver Schools, Colorado School of Mines, Regis University, University of Colorado-Denver, University of Denver are within an hour or so of Eldora and/or Winter Park/Mary Jane

  3. Dartmouth College-Okemo/Skiway

  4. Williams-Mt. Snow

  5. SUNY Plattsburgh-Whiteface

  6. SUNY New Paltz-Hunter

  7. Bard-Hunter

  8. Western State Colorado University-Crested Butte

  9. Fort Lewis College-Telluride

  10. UC Boulder-Eldora

  11. University of Nevada Reno-Lake Tahoe Resorts

  12. Fort Lewis College-Purgatory

  13. The Utah Schools University of Utah & Westminster College, Snowbird/Alta/Solitude/Brighton/The Canyons/Park City/Deer Valley

  14. University of Montana-Montana Snowbowl

  15. Montana State University-Bridger Bowl

  16. Skidmore College-Gore Mountain


What is a Superscore?

If you are a junior or a senior in high school and plan on taking the ACT or the SAT, you may have heard the word “superscore” and wondered what it is. A superscore is when you combine your best scores from more than one test date. For example, If you take the SAT and get a 610/EBRW and a 700/Math, your total score is 1310. If you take the test again and get a 650/EBRW and a 670/Math, your total score is 1320. But if you take your best score from each test date, you add 650/EBRW and 710/Math which adds up to a “superscore” of 1360, which is a stronger score than either of the individual tests. The ACT works the same way. The one thing that you cannot do is superscore between the ACT and the SAT. If your superscore is dramatically better than any of your individual tests, take care to check that the colleges that you are considering will use a superscore. The link here from the Princeton Review should help you determine how the schools on your list will calculate your score. Enjoy!


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Greetings from the Heart of Application Season!

I have been knee deep in essays and applications. I have a goal to write at least one blog post a month and I knew the clock was ticking to get a post in before the end of September but I was lacking direction (and time!).

I was at a function this week with parents of eleventh and twelfth graders and the chatter about college applications wove its way through many conversations. I drove home with a friend who has a senior and she commented on the stress that many parents expressed. I told her that people should not be stressed about admissions, they should be more stressed about their students graduating. I cited a piece that I wrote on my blog from another admissions season, What You Should Really Be Anxious About. And voilá, I had the inspiration for my September piece. If you have a senior, I hope this excerpt reduces your stress levels and facilitates some important conversations. Enjoy!

Admission is only the first step in a long journey. While students wait, they should think about how they are going to maximize their experience over the next four years. Did you know that the high school class of 2010 had a 60% graduation rate over a six-year period? Think about that for a minute. Only six out of ten students had graduated in SIX YEARS! Meanwhile, The Colleges That Change Lives have an average acceptance rate of 66% and more than half of the colleges in this country accept more than half of the students that apply.

So why are people worried about admissions when they should really be concerned about making progress towards graduation? High school students that complete a thoughtful college search and create a realistic list should not be stressed about admissions. The numbers say that a student is likely to be admitted to a college but they are much less likely to complete their degree in a timely fashion, if at all and THAT is where the real anxiety should be focused; what happens when they get to college and how do they graduate on time.

(Picture is from the dorm room of my favorite college sophomore. I REALLY have no time right now.)



August Consulting!

IMG_2010I make it a point to write at least one new post each month and maintaining this goal during application season is a challenge. I find myself working around the clock this time of year. I named my consulting practice August Consulting for a reason! Reading essay drafts, consulting with the professional editor that I use to review my students’ work, visiting college websites to confirm deadlines, sculpting lists and communicating with families has me working at quite a pace. If you are a rising senior or the parent of a rising senior, my takeaway is this; make it a goal to get your applications completed before school starts. Last summer I wrote about A Path to Peace, Part 2 and it still holds true this year.

The concept is simple, but not easy. There are many false summits in this process. As my seniors finished their Common App essays in late July, there was cause for celebration. They felt like they had completed a critical piece of the application and they felt great. But that was just one weigh point on the road to college. On August 1st we jumped right into the Common App, finalizing lists and determining whether schools are Common App, Coalition App, or use a proprietary application platform. We needed to start writing supplemental essays and for some kids, that means LOTS of writing.

I literally call myself the College Stalker in August. I call, email and text, pushing each kid to keep working. I promise them that this will have an endpoint.  I tell them that they might dread seeing my phone number calling again, but they will love me in September. And as they start to cross the finish line, I see the smiles that light up their face. I tell them they are allowed to have a silent swagger of a senior that is done with their applications. And I ask them to be silent because if they talk about it, they might stress out their peers who are still working.

So this post is short and sweet because I have work to do!

7 Reasons​ Why I Love State Flagships

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I love state flagships. They tend to have similar attributes that lend themselves to an incredible college experience. Here are a few reasons why I recommend looking at them!

  1. Campus-These schools often are set on stunning campuses. Think of the University of Colorado, the University of Virginia or the University of Delaware as examples. They have picturesque campuses with a collegiate feel.

  2. Location-These universities tend to be in a large town or small city that provides a dynamic backdrop for the school. Think of Ann Arbor, MI, Burlington, VT or Athens, GA. These towns are adjacent to the campus and offer an array of options for a college student, from medical care to cultural events and shopping.

  3. Majors-State flagships offer such a broad array of educational options that you can feel confident that if you enter with one major in mind and decide to change direction, there is a good chance that your school will provide options for your new path.

  4. Admissions Threshold-One of the neat things about state flagships is that they provide first-rate educations in a dynamic environment with a manageable admissions threshold. Many of them are selective, but not impossible to gain acceptance. (One caveat here, of the 50 states, there are a few schools that are as selective as any in the country, Michigan, Texas, California, and Virginia are  examples that are uber-selective)

  5. Cost- The starting point for room/board/tuition at these schools is usually much less than a private school and many of them offer merit scholarships to out-of-state students. There are plenty of schools that offer tuition rates for out-of-state students that are substantially lower than private schools and with merit scholarships, might come close to the cost of your in-state flagship. Some of them, like the University of Utah or the University of Montana, make it possible to establish residency for in-state tuition.

  6. Sports-State flagships often field sports teams that compete nationally and help create an esprit-de-corps on campus that facilitates a deep sense of community. Think about the University of Wisconson, Penn State or the University of Alabama.

  7. Diversity-These schools create a level of diversity, ethnic, religious, racial and socioeconomic that is hard for a private school to replicate. At a state flagship, you will have exposure to people from all walks of life.

Richard Moll wrote a book in 1985 called Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s best public undergraduate colleges and universities, where he created a list of public colleges that offered an Ivy League-caliber education. The link below discusses the top “Public Ivies”. Enjoy!