Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Not the One Going to College

Earlier this week Mark Sklarow, Executive Director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association wrote a blog piece that generated a lot of buzz. It was titled: "Getting Kids Into" Ivy League Colleges: Absolutely NOT the Job of an Independent Educational Consultant.

He was a little fired up because he'd been reading a lot of membership applications that espoused "insider knowledge" and "admission secrets" that would translate into an "advantage" for the student working with the consultant.

Outrageous claims like this get me a little fired up too. Admission to a college is not a prize to be won. Don't forget-- you still have to GO to college once you're admitted. This is why ethical independent educational consultants focus on the student as a whole and help students discover schools where they can be successful.

Think about this scenario-- Let's say Emma is a solid student at a good high school with good standardized test scores. She could get into any number of schools, but a school such as Harvard would be a long shot (and an academic struggle, to boot). Maybe she applies anyway and gets in. Any number of people would question her turning that down.

But this is exactly why admission is not the prize. Emma might flunk out. Or she might struggle to graduate in seven years with poor grades. Is that worth it? Or is worth going to a school where she could graduate with honors, be a leader on campus because she's not struggling academically, and graduate on time? That's the scenario I'd rather see.

If the Ivies were the end-all, be-all, then the thousands of other wonderful colleges out there wouldn't exist.

I'm not yet a member of IECA, but I strive to abide by their Principles of Good Practice. This is why I will never claim to get a student into college. Students get themselves in, IEC's help get everyone through it all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

3 Things to Remember About Your College Application

It's official-- we are in the throes of the holiday season. Between the constant holiday music and piles of decorations everywhere, there's no escaping it. And what do the holidays mean? Stress! Yet somehow it all manages to come together, even if it's at the last minute.

We're also in the the throes of another season, college application season, and that means another stressful deadline lurking behind the holidays--the regular application deadline. Those who applied earlier will actually get an answer soon; what a lovely present that could be. Just like the holiday eventually sorts itself out with some thought and organization, so do the college applications.

There are a three things to remember that I think will help, even if you've already got an application in.

1. Colleges want you
Think about it--do you think a college would exist without you, the student? This isn't meant to be a if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-and-no-one's-around kind of question but they need you, they really do. Yes, a lot of it is business driven, with staff to pay and a lot of building upkeep, but the professors are also there to teach YOU. None of it can really exist without students.

2. Admissions officers are people too
Ever see a teacher outside of school, in regular clothes? It's kind of a weird feeling, isn't it? Kind of like they shouldn't be there? Admissions officers seem like that too. Who are these people? Talk to them; you'll find they're quite reasonable. They're looking for the best qualities in each application they comb through.

3. You will go to college
I know sometimes it feels like this isn't true. And I don't doubt how disappointing it will feel if you don't get in to your first choice. But if the list of colleges is a thoughtful one, there's more than one good choice on that list. The common denominator in this whole equation is you. You are the only one who can make your college experience great. Take advantage of the incredible opportunity that's in front of you. If you do that, you'll thrive. And what's stressful about that?