College Decisions

It’s been a very busy season in my college consulting business and in life. Winter is that crazy time of year when students receive the majority of college decisions. For many students this is an exciting and very happy time. Even more students though experience stressful and confusing emotions, deciding which future is the best fit for them; with many factors to consider. For many students, this is the first time they have had the “finances – affordability” talk with Mom and Dad. Reality sets in. Finally, another group of students are receiving denial letters, which can be devastating, especially if they didn’t have a consultant or guidance and either weren’t expecting it or have no back up plan.

I hope that these normal steps regarding the emotional “deniel” experience, will help your student process and/or understand decisions and move on towards the BEST fit for them and to enjoy upcoming graduation and celebrations. I base this on my personal experience as a parent and as a professional independent educational and college admissions consultant.

Denial – of course, the actual denial letter begins this tough process. You may feel overwhelmed, confused, and a little frantic. You may deny that you ever even wanted to attend that particular college. You may choose not to share with friends or family (and that’s ok!). Ultimately, you may just need some time to process what just happened. Next comes anger – you’ll be mad. You’ll question why other students were admitted and you were not. You may question the sanity of the admission representative. You’ll question your parents, yourself, your teachers, and your counselor. Why did your counselor ever even suggest you visit that college?! Why did you listen!? If only your teacher had given you a higher grade. Then begins bargaining – you’ll question what you did wrong. “If only I had done this differently…”. You may also suddenly feel that if you can just be admitted to another school, it’ll make this ok. You may feel that if you call or email your admission representative, you can change their mind. Maybe they actually didn’t read your heart-grabbing essay or maybe they didn’t actually pay attention to your 20 extracurricular activities! Surely, they’re reasonable people! Sadly, some students experience depression, although I’ve been told by a local professional it’s typically episodic and temporary – you may feel sad and wonder, “What’s the point?” “Why study for exams?” “I’ll just hide in my room” Finally, acceptance – eventually, you will learn to accept the decision. And you also very likely received other acceptance letter (s) at some point in the process. One of my students recently said, “Everything happens for a reason.” That’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily make the journey any easier.

The college search and application process is just that – a process. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll readjust. And remember, that this process can be hard on everyone – those receiving the decision and those making the decision.

I believe, God plants each and every student exactly where they belong.

God Bless. Carrie

Dual Enrollment vs. Advanced Placement

dualvap

Happy March – the month were students are registering for the 2018-19 school year; already! I am weighing in on this question every day this time of year, so I took a survey of colleges in the Southeast and asked this important question of each Admissions Director. AP or Dual Enrollment? Below are the responses I received along with the Pros & Cons. I hope this helps both Parents and Students make an informed decision, and that it’s the one that BEST suits your individual student’s needs. NOTE: If you are one of my Soar 2 Success Students, this was covered in our planning sessions. If you are not a current student and wish to learn more about our programs, please fill out the contact form below.

 

Dual Enrollment (DE):

PROS:

  • College Credit awarded upon completion of the course with a grade of “C’ or better
  • DE courses are an indicator of success at the college level
  • DE students have been tested in a real college environment and treated as college students, with most classes mixed with DE and full time college students
  • All State colleges and Universities accept DE credits from “feeder” Dual schools
  • One DE course equals 3 college credit hours
  • DE courses are weighted on a 5.0 scale towards high school weighted GPA
  • DE is 100% FREE for high school students; courses & books
  • High School students can take 1 DE course per semester – per high school period scheduled for dual courses, therefore earning 2 college courses = 6 credit hours in 1 school year
  • Students can take courses that are not offered at their high school

CONS:

  • DE course grade transfers with you to college as initial college GPA; this can be a PRO or CON!
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college must have own transportation
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college must have a modified high school schedule, which may impact athletics, clubs, etc.
  • Students taking DE off campus at local Dual college may miss out on high school social interaction
  • DE REQUIRES students to take additional ownership of their courses/schoolwork and is NOT for unorganized students

Advanced Placement (AP):

PROS:

  • College credit is awarded with a 3 or higher on the AP Exam; high school credit is awarded by class grade & is weighted on a 5.0 scale
  • AP tests demonstrate proficiency and competency in subject matter based on a class grade AND on an AP test
  • All State colleges and Universities in Florida accept AP credits. College & Universities in other states are likely to accept all AP credits as well.
  • Depending on scores achieved (3-5), a higher score on an AP exam “could” earn multiple college credits depending on exam and score.
  • Class GPA will not transfer with you to college

CONS:

  • Many students will not score high enough to earn college credit for AP course; many courses have low “pass” rates
  • AP courses are difficult – year long courses
  • AP courses are full year, so only 1 college course per year, per high school period taken
  • Once an AP course has begun, it cannot be dropped

Florida 4 Year University Admissions Survey Responses:

“Admissions look favorably upon successful completion of Dual Enrollment courses”

“Earning a “C” or lower will negatively impact admissions decisions”

“Admissions counselors look very favorably upon successful completion of AP coursework”

“A grade of a “C” in an AP course is not considered negative when applying to college if the AP course is rigorous in a STEM subject”

“Students planning on applying in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) major, at a top school, should take the most rigorous Math & Science AP courses available”

“Dual and AP mix of coursework Junior and Senior year is the best combination”

“Always take the most rigorous courses in each subject available at your high school for the academic area of interest you will be pursuing”

 

College – Can I get by without a car?

The question of whether or not to bring a car to college is a common one. Almost every family I meet with senior year asks this question and usually the parent versus student ideas on this are different.

I hope both parents and students find this helpful; things to consider ..

Will you be living in an on campus dorm? If yes, unless the student will have an off campus job or will be visiting home regularly, my advice is always no. On Campus parking is typically VERY limited, a distance away for Freshman, expensive and most importantly dangerous (lots of inexperienced drivers, LOTS of distracted drivers and tons of mopeds). In addition, for most families, unless the student is working full time, a car adds unnecessary expenses (insurance, gas, maintenance, parking fees, etc).

Questions to consider when making the decision Car vs No Car Freshman year in college (and beyond) are below. Note: As a parent, in our home, we have a no car rule Freshman year and then we open up the discussion for Sophomore year.

  1. Find out free modes of transportation available at University and where pick up/drop off routes will be.
  2. How far away from home will you be? Is there safe bus service (college bus routes; campus to campus service) regularly, nearby airport or student ride share options on campus social media pages or boards?

I hope these thoughts, along with suggestions based on experience will bring productive conversation and help to come to a decision that is agreeable to everyone invloved.

Testing – Stress!

Stress according to Websters Dictionary is defined as (noun) a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. After a very long and emotional conversation with one of my top student’s parents about her recent test scores and her emotional state following receiving them (almost perfect scores by the way), I realized this is becoming a recurring theme throughout the year with students; particularly Junior and Senior year. Stress seems to reach its peak during mid-term and final exams when coupled with ACT/SAT testing; it can almost seem unbearable to a teenager (to the parents as well).

However, there is good news! Studies, as well as my own experience with students in my consulting practice show there are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety when it comes to testing; before, during and after. .

Coping & Stress Management

  1.  Get plenty of sleep every night. According to the American Medical Association teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep each night. As a mother of 3 believe me I know this is a difficult task with so much on their plate; homework, sports, social, etc. In contrast, by college you can’t wake them up!
  2. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Diet is a HUGE part of how your teenager will deal with stress. Junk in – junk out. Healthy eating habits will assist the brain in functioning properly, provide better & deeper sleep and studies show will also provide a more balanced emotional state (teenagers sure need that).
  3. Try taking up Yoga, Meditation, Deep breathing or Daily Prayer. Dozens of studies at major medical institutions show that using daily relaxation techniques and being able to apply them leading up to & day of a stressful test, positively impacts the student both emotionally and yields better academic results.
  4. Do not cram! Start test prep early enough (for high school exams and college entrance testing) prior to testing that the results will reflect that effort. I recommend 2-3 months of weekly prep prior to ACT/SAT testing whichever method is chosen (group, 1-1, online, etc). I have student’s who insist they can prep themselves and wait until two weeks prior to ACT/SAT test to do an hour each day and in the majority of cases the scores are very disappointing. There are so many FREE tools now for prep online that all student’s have access. For mid-term and final exams, I recommend student’s start going back to notes/chapters from units that will be covered on the mid term or final and refreshing their memory, up to 3 weeks prior to tests. I have found best practice is for student to re teach information to a classmate or parent; reteach to retain. I find when students wait for or rely on a study guide or memory or cram for a mid term or final, the result is usually very disappointing.
  5. If stress becomes unmanageable or is affecting your student socially, seek professional help. There are therapists who specialize in stress management for students, and many who focus on performance anxiety in particular. I have had student’s (parents) seek help with excellent results and coping mechanisms that provided relief throughout college.
  6. Be prepared heading to the test center. I always tell my student’s “fail to prepare and you will prepare to fail” in all areas of your life. In other words, on test day have the proper tools; 2 pencils, correct calculator, your ID, your test day registration ticket, a snack and water bottle.

I hope that this has helped you. I have lived this student “stress” dilemma both as a parent (and continue to) and as a professional educational consultant.

Make it a great 2nd semester!!

 

Carrie

Interviewing Check Mate

Interviewing Tips, Role Playing and proper Body Language are just a few of the techniques I’ve found to lead to successful results. Experts say the combination of intriguing conversation and proper body language are keys to success.

Interviewing skills will be used early in high school for part time jobs, internships, honors clubs, leadership positions, academic competitions and as seniors for selective admissions, scholarships, competitive internships and much more moving into post secondary schools or the job market.

#1 – Be Prepared ✔or prepare to fail ❌ Role play with a professional College Consultant or a mentor.

#2 – Dress for Success – business attire (if video interview same rules apply!)

#3 – Smile!

#4 – Make eye contact with interviewer or with everyone in the room before answering a question if multiple interviewers.

#5 – Leave out the cologne or perfume for interview.

#6 – Do not fidget with your face, hands, pen/pencil, etc. Keep hands in lap, folded in front of you or as expression only.

#7 – Know Top Questions or Conversation Prompts prior to interview to best prepare (my next blog – listed by college).

#8 – See fun & helpful body language graphic. Remember poor body language or distractions can cost you the job/intern or admission.

photo by Norma Molina

College Essays – more than > less than

As this application year winds down, I have spent some time thinking about the hundreds of essays I have assisted students with this year. I have seen some start out rivaling an adult professional writing piece to some that looked like a 4th grade tale of an outing with friends. Believe it or not, there is a reason for this vast difference in quality and it’s not writing skills — it’s experiences.

What I want to share is, start early. Students who volunteer a lot, travel a lot (doesn’t have be costly, join clubs and build into their community learn more about themselves, develop lifelong skills and create compelling stories.

I now suggest, to the students I get prior to end of Junior year, to keep a journal and every time they volunteer or travel or life situations knock them for a loop, to write a short entry on it. Students should include what, where, when, how they feel about it and if it impacted them in any way. Lastly, if appropriate, what they did in response.

If students keep these response essays in a folder, come college application essay time senior year, they will find it much easier to have great topics and memories (with feeling attached) to pull from.

Community Service

It’s that time of year where students are done! Exams have their brains fried and they are running to the school parking lots as fast as they can; break time! For most, serving their community over the Holidays is the farthest thing from their mind (let’s just be honest). However, it’s a great time of year to do exactly that. Hundreds of organizations collect food, blankets, toys, etc for their cause and/or your community. In addition, there are holiday festivals, shelters, hospitals, Churches, etc that benefit a cause or your community with needs for volunteers. Involvement, especially in a community event or non profit organization can provide students (and the whole family) with a new perspective, allow for experiences a student can draw from later at college essay time and maybe even create a new family tradition.

Note: Make sure any time you spend volunteering, if you need community service hours for graduation or scholarships, that you ask for documentation on non profit letterhead that states your full name, date (s) and total hours volunteered.

For details on local volunteer opportunities this Holiday season, please follow my Soar 2 Success Consulting FB page.

Transfers

Good morning. I thought I’d share some information for all of those college students out there looking to or thinking about transferring schools and word of warning to high school seniors for future reference. I have 3 students this year that I have been assisting in the transfer application process from one 4 year University to another. Important – KNOW HOW MANY credit hours are required to be taken on the University campus that you are currently enrolled to receive your AA degree PRIOR to applying as a TRANSFER student. Every University, State College and Junior College has different requirements. For example, if you are at UNF in Florida, you must have 30 credit hours at UNF towards your AA out of your 60 that you’ve completed, to apply as a transfer to UF.

I hope this helps to avoid some confusion and potentially money-wasting circumstances.

I am enjoying working with transfer students in this process and also placing them in internships. I’ve learned to make sure above issues are resolved in the process, so that we have a smooth transition.

Carrie

Waiting Game Stress …

Every day I receive texts and emails from parent’s of my seniors and seniors themselves relaying to me how stressful the wait is for college “decisions”. I know it’s difficult and I have been there twice now, as a parent myself. The advice I give both parents and students is to focus on these things:

  1. Focus on what you can change, not on what you can’t. In other words, do well on your exams, continue building your resume and prepping for SAT/ACT to improve for scholarship monies, any requested improved scores, etc.
  2. A BIG reminder that it doesn’t matter ultimately where you start, it only matters where you finish! In other words, “if” you don’t end up at your dream school (and I pray every day you do), you ALWAYS have an opportunity to end up/finish there as a transfer or in grad school.
  3. Self Care – Eat Healthy, Exercise and BREATHE to reduce Stress!
  4. ENJOY the Holidays with your family/loved ones! You cannot  get this time back so try your best to put decision day anxiety off until after break!

 

I hope that each and every one of you has a fantastic Holiday season. I look forward to continuing my Blog and welcoming special guest bloggers, with topics relating to education in 2018! Merry Christmas!

 

Blessings, Carrie

 

Soar 2 Success College Admissions Consulting

Welcome to my Blog! I am Carrie Bedard. I started this blog after receiving dozens of requests by my S2S students and parents letting me know that my assistance over the years has impacted their lives, and that not just the “actual” college consulting/admissions process, but that the Tips and Life Coaching eased them through the strenuous and anxiety filled junior-senior years. So, I have decided to hopefully share some tips over the days, weeks, months and possibly years to come, publicly so as to give other students and their support network a sense of calm through what can seem to be a never ending and grueling process into post secondary education.

God Bless. Carrie